Materiales de Construcción, Vol 58, No 289-290 (2008)

The mineralogical composition of sandstone and its effect on sulphur dioxide deposition

Urs Müller
Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM), Berlin, Germany


Air pollutants often accelerate stone deterioration in historical buildings and monuments in urban areas. The pollutants are themselves the products of fossil fuel combustion and intensive farming. While this trend seems to have been curbed by strict emission laws in the European Union, in most developing and emerging countries air pollution is an ongoing process due to increasing energy needs and vehicle traffic. Many factors condition natural stone behaviour with respect to gaseous pollutants. Two of the more prominent of such factors are the composition of the atmosphere and the type of stone. Due to their porosity, sandstones are particularly vulnerable to air pollutant attack. Many of the reactions between non-carbonaceous sandstones and these gases are not well understood, however. The present study aimed to acquire an understanding of the processes and factors governing sandstone behaviour when exposed to sulphur dioxide. Seven different sandstones from southern and eastern Germany were analyzed for the study. The binder composition of the stones varied significantly. They also exhibited completely different behaviour in connection with SO2 sorption. Interestingly, while the amount of SO2 deposited was unrelated to the specific surface area of the sandstones, this parameter was closely correlated to the iron oxide content. Iron oxide phases are believed to act as a catalyst in the oxidation of SO2 to SO3. The type and amount of clay mineral, in turn, was found to have no significant impact on initial SO2 deposition in sandstones.


sandstone; pollutants; deposition; deterioration; catalyst

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