Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books
A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology

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diethyl zinc

An organometallic compound (Zn(C 2 H 5 ) 2 ), that is readily volatile (B.P. 123° C. at one atmosphere). It has been proposed as a vapor-phase deacidifying agent, and gives promise of being effective; it leaves an alkaline reserve of zinc oxide in the paper, which not only protects against acid but is an effective fungicide as well. Treatment must be carried out in the absence of air or moisture, as diethyl zinc ignites on contact with air and explodes on contact with moisture. This requires that the books be absolutely dry before treatment; therefore they must be treated with the gas in a vacuum chamber and the excess diethyl zinc must be removed or neutralized before the chamber is opened. Treatment with diethyl zinc leaves the paper with a pH of approximately 7.5 and does not appear to have any adverse effect on leather or other book materials.

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