Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books
A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology

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nitric acid

A corrosive, non-volatile, inorganic acid (HNO 3 ). It is a strong acid, with most of its important reactions being due to its oxidizing action. Nitric acid reacts violently with cellulosic materials, and can be formed in them by the conversion of nitric oxide (an air pollutant) into nitrogen dioxide, and then into nitric acid: 2NO + O 2 → 2NO 2 ; 3NO 2 + H 2 O → 2HNO 3 + NO.

As the amount of nitric oxide in the atmosphere is very small, relative to sulfur dioxide, the formation of nitric acid in archival materials is relatively slow; however, it also functions as a catalyst in the conversion of sulfur dioxide into sulfuric acid.

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