In ConsDistList Digest 31:62, Jim Lindner asks about the possibilities for 
non-aqueous pH testing on water-sensitive objects.

Unfortunately, pH is not defined in non-aqueous solutions, and a pH probe would 
not give a meaningful result in such a solution.  However, there are proxy 
measurements which can give an indication of the pH of paper without the use of 
aqueous solutions or pH electrodes.  One possibility is the SurveNIR machine, 
which was developed as part of an EU-funded research project.  This uses 
near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy to estimate the pH of a sample paper, based on 
a comparison with the NIR spectra of papers with a known pH.  The machine will 
also give an estimate of other parameters such as lignin content, rosin 
content, degree of polymerisation - all of which are important for diagnosing 
the condition of paper and planning treatments.

For more information, see: 

Barry Knight
Conservation Scientist
St Albans

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