Three series of samples were prepared as follows: modern degraded cotton canvas untreated (control sample), treated with a polar consolidation agent, cellulose nanofibrils (CNF) dispersed in water or treated with an apolar consolidation agent, persilylated methyl hydroxyethyl cellulose combined with surface silylated cellulose nanocrystals (MC+CNC(h)) in heptane.

In this study, the commercial cotton canvas (Barna Art, Barcelona, Spain) used consisted of a plain-woven fabric of 341 ± 1 g/m2 and presented 9 and 11 threads/cm in the warp and weft directions, respectively. The cotton sample was chemically degraded according to a protocol described elsewhere.32 The degree of polymerization (DP) of the prepared aged canvas was ca. 500. This DP value is low compared to the DP of canvases made of different proportions in bast, ramie, and linen fibers, which were considered in “good conditions” and present a DP superior to 1000.1

These canvases were then subjected to a consolidation treatment, consisting of a prepared nanocellulose dispersion of CNF provided by Stora Enso AB (Sweden). The composite treatment consisting of persilylated methyl hydroxyethyl cellulose and surface silylated crystalline nanocellulose (MC+CNC(h)) at 1.98%w/w, in heptane, was obtained from the Zentrum fur Bucherhaltung (ZfB, Leipzig, Germany). The procedure used for the silylation of the two compounds, and the introduction of hydrophobic groups, which enables their dispersion or dissolution in nonpolar solvents, is described elsewhere.33 The crystalline nanocellulose, i.e., CNC (CelluForce NCC) was purchased from CelluForce Inc. The treatments were applied by brush on both sides of the canvas. Surface coverages of 30 and 15 g/m2 (i.e., 8.8% and 4.4% weight increase in canvas weight) were reached after complete drying of the treatment. The calculation of the required amount of consolidant needed was performed for each product prior to their application. An increase in sample thickness from 0.848 mm to 0.880 mm (+4%) and to 0.906 mm (+7%) was measured using a digital micrometer for the cotton canvas before and after treatment with CNF and MC+CNC(h), respectively.

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