The Science behind Music SorbFrom Silica Gel to a Complete Humidity Control Product
Trying to understand how such an apparently simple-looking product could help you maintain your valuable instrument, we need to define and explain a few elements.
Music Sorb® is not a desiccant
Music Sorb® (as mentioned in our article The Story behind Music Sorb®) is a completely new type of humidity control which Fuji Silysia chemistry has improved time and again.
Compared with the conventional silica gel in a desiccant pouch, Music Sorb® has a high capacity both for adsorbsion and desorption of moisture. Fuji Silysia has been able to create specific versions of silica gel which control and maintain a specific humidity range for specific uses, from precious art work, to antiques, to wood instruments, to large buildings, all for regulating humidity in the right range.
Music Sorb® is designed for Musical Instruments
The wood that goes into your musical instrument, from pianos, guitars, violins, cellos, to ukuleles, has been treated, structured, and designed to be used in a humidity range of 40 to 60% relative humidity (RH).
Music Sorb® is designed to begin giving off (desorbing) humidity beginning at 49%RH and desorbing more quickly as the ambient humidity becomes drier, with a maximum desorption at 40%RH.
In the opposite direction, Music Sorb® begins to gather humidity (adsorb) beginning at 51%RH and increasing to a maximum adsorbsion at 60%RH.
From low to high humidity levels, Music Sorb® is a perfect combatant for rapid humidity changes, and is excellent in the preservation of wooden musical instruments. Furthermore, Music Sorb® exhibits very low levels of hysteresis, or the phenomenon in which adsorption and release of humidity do not correspond.
One of the important characteristics of Fuji Silica gel is its surface area, from which depends the efficacy of the whole adsorption/desorption process.
A teaspoon of micronized silica (which goes into Music Sorb®) has the same surface area as a tennis court.
Knowing the capacity of Music Sorb® as explained above, it is not hard to imagine why it would be effective at preserving the right humidity range for your wood instrument.
It is all a matter of “how much” Music Sorb® is needed for your instrument and your humidity situation.
By dimensioning Music Sorb® into configurations, according to the piano or string instrument application, it can adsorb and desorb on very large areas compared to its size, producing the needed humidity buffering effect with the best efficacy for all wooden musical instruments.
How Long Does It Last?
How long Music Sorb® really lasts is dependent of the actual humidity changes to which it has been subjected.
Of course, the more extreme the humidity variations, the more often Music Sorb® must cycle through its ability to adsorb and desorb. What we know (and guarantee) is that the Music Sorb® system lasts a year before it needs to be replaced whether placed in a grand piano, vertical piano, or the music case of any stringed instrument.
Although Music Sorb® seems exceedingly simple, its simplicity has taken a long road to development. As with many ingenious products, it simplicity is deceptive…and to your benefit.
Unlike typical desiccants, MUSIC SORB® has a special technology that allows it to release contained moisture once the RH drops below the pre-conditioned range. MUSIC SORB® is an inert and solid silica bead product.
It does not contain excess water or liquid gels that can damage your instruments. MUSIC SORB® is nonreactive and gentle to the wood in your piano and/or stringed instruments. It is environmentally safe and does not contain any corrosive or toxic chemicals
Adsorb & Desorb; Not Absorb & Emit
From Wikipedia we learn that Adsorption is a sur-face property: Adsorption is the adhesion of atoms, ions, or molecules from a gas, liquid, or dissolved solid to a surface.
- This process creates a film of the adsorbate on the surface of the ad-sorbent. This process differs from absorption, in which a fluid (the absorbate) permeates or is dissolved by a liquid or solid (the absorbent).
- Adsorption is a surface-based process while absorption involves the whole volume of the material. The term “sorp-tion” encompasses both pro- cesses, while desorption is the reverse of adsorption, because it is a surface phenomenon.”
In practice, absorption is the typical process of sponges or absorbent materials having limited capacity and are tied to volume. Ad-sorption, being a process related to the proper-ties of the surface of materials, bind single molecules of water to molecules of the unimaginably huge surface of the Music Sorb® granules. These granules are not impregnated with water, but are able to retain water molecules in proportion to the area available on the granules themselves, without forming liquid water which would be harmful in case of direct contact with the wood of the musical instrument.
What is hysteresis and Why is it important?
Hysteresis is defined as the depend-ence of a system not only on its current environment but also on its past environment. This dependence arises because the system can be in more than one internal state. To predict its future development, either its internal state or its history must be known. If a given input alternately increases and decreases, the output tends to form a loop as in the figure. However, loops may also occur because of a dynamic lag between input and output.
Often, this effect is also referred to as hysteresis, or rate-dependent hysteresis. However, this effect disappears as the input changes more slowly. To explain the features of hysteresis, we can use the example of a rechargeable battery. You can recharge a battery only so many times. For each time you charge and discharge your phone or your electric toothbrush, the battery loses some of its ability to hold the charge.
The lower the level of hysteresis, the more cycles of charging and discharg-ing can be attained. Hysteresis can also occur during physical adsorption processes. The specific causes of ad-sorption hysteresis are still an active area of research, but Fuji Silysia is maximizing the feature of silica through its research.