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.
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