Oxidation is a wide-spread process responsible for material ageing and also important in most biological systems.

Atmospheric oxygen causes a myriad of decay processes in organic substances. Therefore, lifetime is often dictated by degradation reactions such as thermal-oxidative, photo-oxidative, mechanic and hydrolytic processes. The susceptibility of specific organic substances depends heavily on the molecular structure (e.g. functional and end groups, morphology, impurities, stabilizers) and on the external conditions such as temperature, exposure to light, mechanic stress, humidity and length of exposure.

Well documented cases that impressively reflect the destructive potential of oxidative reactions on organic substances include elastomeres turning brittle,  erosion of car varnish (Californian sunburn), as well as rancidification and yellowing of butter.

Oxidative decay causes irreversible changes in product characteristics (predominantly affected are color, gloss, stability, haptic, reactivity, structural integrity). These changes are in general undesirable, because they negatively affect the requirements towards stability, quality, safety and warranty. The use of antioxidants and other additives can delay the onset of oxidative decay and therefore prolong a products’ life expectancy. The precise characterization of the oxidative behavior of individual product formulations under specific application conditions allows to optimize the use of such stabilizing systems and to predict overall lifetime of the product. Such a characterization is possible with the analytic instruments and custom services offered by ACL Instruments.

Detail view of a natural rubber object produced in the 1960ies: embrittlement and deformation as a direct consequence of light induced oxidation.
Californian sunburn: erosion of a car varnish resulting from extensive weathering.

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