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Handy corrosion sensors protect cultural and historical objects

Pressmeddelande   •   Jul 04, 2012 12:39 CEST

Paris - Japan, a historical tapestry on its journey from the Louvre to an exhibition in Osaka: the AirCorr corrosion logger monitors the air quality surrounding the tapestry.

The air humidity fluctuates minimally; the temperature is also fine. However, upon opening the transport box and exhibiting the tapestry in Osaka, the corrosivity increases tremendously. The AirCorr corrosion logger registers the changes in real time. The data can be read via a wireless interface and transport procedures or the exhibition surroundings can be adjusted. Conventional sensor devices often measure only air humidity and temperature, and, therefore, would not have detected the increased air corrosivity, risking irrevocable damage to the cultural object.

A team of European researchers, museum experts and industry representatives developed the transportable and userfriendly real-time measuring device AirCorr in order to control the impact of corrosive atmospheres, especially on objects of importance to cultural heritage. The plug-in sensor units can be exchanged easily and, hence, can be used to monitor and protect various metallic objects. Important conclusions about the corrosiveness of the ambient air can also be drawn for non-metallic objects.

The loggers can be mounted almost everywhere since they are battery-driven and consume little power. Currently, the devices are being tested in several European museums and exhibitions. Furthermore, the user-friendliness of the logger software is being improved by including existing standards and recommendations, which allow the user to draw straightforward conclusions from the measured data.

The concept of the measuring device is simple and yet highly effective: the sensor is comprised of a thin metal layer (copper, silver, lead, iron, zinc, tin, bronze, or brass), which is deposited on an insulating substrate (made of ceramic or polymer). Corrosion of the metal layer causes an increase in its electrical resistance, which is recorded and can be used to calculate the degree of corrosion. A part of the sensor is protected against corrosion by an organic coating and serves as a reference to compensate for the temperature-dependence of the electrical resistance.

The loggers and sensors have been developed and brought to commercial viability within the framework of the European research project »MUSECORR - Protection of cultural heritage by real-time corrosion monitoring« (FP7/2007-2013, project number 226539). Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP in Dresden used their vacuum-based precision coating technologies to develop a process for depositing thin metal layers in a precise and reproducible manner on the plug-in sensors for indoor use. Thicker metal layers for outdoor sensors were manufactured by the Institute of Chemical Technology in Prague. The cost-efficient AirCorr loggers are available with different resolutions designed for indoor or outdoor use can be purchased from the French Corrosion Institute, which is coordinating the project.

Scientific contact: Tomas Prosek
Institut de la Corrosion, France
Phone +33 298 058 905

Swerea-koncernen skapar, förädlar och förmedlar forskningsresultat inom områdena material-, process-, produkt- och produktionsteknik. Målet är att skapa affärsmässig nytta för medlemmar och övriga kunder och att stärka konkurrens- och innovationsförmågan hos näringslivet i Sverige. Koncernen har ca 500 anställda och omsätter 600 Mkr/år. Verksamheten bedrivs i fem forskningsinstitut: Swerea IVF, Swerea KIMAB, Swerea MEFOS, Swerea SICOMP och Swerea SWECAST. Verksamhet finns i Jönköping, Luleå, Mölndal, Piteå och Stockholm. Swerea KIMAB har även ett helägt dotterbolag i Frankrike med verksamhet i Brest och St Etienne. 

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