Skip to main content
European Commission logo print header

Investigation of Volatile Binding Media in temporary consolidation of archaeological materials

Project description

Searching for the best volatile binding media for archaeological artefacts

Volatile binding media (VBM) are used to protect fragile heritage materials during transport or other high-risk operations. Cyclododecane (CDD) is currently the most used temporary consolidant. The EU-funded VOLATILE4ARCHAEO project will investigate alternative VBM, alone and mixed with CDD. Sublimation rate, interaction and compatibility with various substrates, and presence of residues will be tested. The project will provide several options for variable-term consolidation with VBM and experimental data on their performance, including testing on real historical objects. The application to artefacts will be based on communication with stakeholders in Italy, France and Egypt. The project will also provide a VBM glossary, practical handbook for VBM application, and safety guide for conservators.


Volatile Binding Media (VBM) are temporary consolidants for the protection of fragile heritage materials, as archaeological artifacts, during high-risk operations such as handling and transport to museums. VBM spontaneously pass from the solid to the gaseous state and do not require additional steps to be removed, without leaving residues. Cyclododecane (CDD), introduced in 1995, is currently the most common VBM. However, little is known about the interaction between VBM and different substrates, and even less about alternatives to CDD, hence this hinders the use of VBM in practice. Conservators would highly benefit from a range of VBM having different sublimation rates (able to be tailored for the specific case), and possibly also less hazardous for health and environment. In this project, CDC, alternative VBM (cyclododecanone, cyclododecanol, camphene, and menthol), and six mixtures of these materials are investigated, in terms of sublimation rate, interaction and compatibility with different substrates (wall painting and ceramic material), morphological changes of the surfaces and presence of residues. A high number of test specimens of mural paintings on mortar substrate and ceramics will be used, monitoring the sublimation of VBM and several chemical-physical parameters. The best VBM will be tested also on real historical objects, during the secondment in Marseille.
The project results will be communicated through the website, two conference contributions and three peer-reviewed articles. The results will be also disseminated to the conservators and conservation science community, through seminars at the Host institutions and two workshops for conservators (one in Italy and one in Egypt), a VBM glossary, and an application manual. VOLATILE4ARCHAEO will deliver a wider range of options for short- or long-term consolidation using VBM along with experimental empirical data on their physical-chemical behavior.


Net EU contribution
€ 183 473,28
40126 Bologna

See on map

Nord-Est Emilia-Romagna Bologna
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 183 473,28