NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — Scientists with the Warren Lasch Conservation Center at the Clemson University Restoration Institute will receive a share of a $235,000 grant from the National Park Service's Preservation Technology and Training Program to improve metals conservation in a sustainable way.
The Clemson researchers will receive $24,000 to investigate the applicability of ion-exchange technology for metal conservation.
Awards were selected and the assistance agreements will be administered by the Park Service's National Center for Preservation Technology and Training in Natchitoches, La. The center strives to create new technologies and training opportunities to preserve prehistoric and historic resources throughout the United States.
The National Park Service awarded the grants and agreements under Title IV of the National Historic Preservation Act. The Service received 42 grant applications, which underwent peer review and a national panel review. Eleven institutions were selected for awards.
Clemson's grant application was submitted by research scientist Stéphanie Cretté, research engineer Nestor G. Gonzalez-Pereyra and conservator Liisa Näsänen, who will conduct the research.
The research team's goal is to develop a simple and effective method to improve the desalination treatments traditionally used on archaeological iron conservation. The team will apply ion-exchange technologies to selectively remove chloride and other ions from caustic solutions without significantly affecting pH.
Conservation treatment protocols continuously require re-evaluation so that best-practice techniques reflect contemporary scientific capabilities, Cretté said. As such, frequent meshing of the conservator's skills with those of the materials science and chemistry profession is imperative.
"The primary objective of this project is to design and implement an improved treatment protocol that is effective, fast, reversible, sustainable, safe and in accordance with conservation ethics," Cretté said.
The research team will apply ion-exchange systems to separate chloride salts from caustic solutions traditionally used to stabilize archaeological metal.
A recirculating and regenerating system will be devised, which will accelerate the treatment of iron artifacts and use significantly less caustic solution, therefore reducing handling and health and safety issues to a minimum.