|Welcome to this introduction to my research with Analytical Science Projects (ASP) in the University of Warwick’s Department of Physics.
|Making a contribution to the preservation of cultural heritage is the overriding objective of my thesis; to this end I formed an industrial collaboration between the University and ClickNetherfield, a major conservation display case manufacturer in the United Kingdom.
Stable microclimates as sustainable solutions for preserving cultural heritage artefacts
Upgrading the passive display case
|Prevention is better than cure: it has long been known that microclimates made of benign atmospheres provide ideal environments to safeguard cultural heritage artefacts for future generations.
|Passive display cases are less costly and consume less energy than active ones: with electric-powered environmental conditioning. Knowledge of how air is transported to and from display case interiors is fundamental to the preservation of significant and vulnerable cultural heritage artefacts worthy of display.
|Studying air exchange mechanisms of commercially available passive displays loaned by ClickNetherfield Ltd is underway with the aim of controlling this air exchange.
|An "air-tight" display case in the 1932 English translation of F. Rathgen's "The Preservation of Antiquities. A Handbook for Curators" (1905)
|Some of the components from the external atmosphere which eventually penetrate display cases
A case with its vertically-hinged door - a popular configuration for heritage collections, but is susceptible to "stack effect" (image: ClickNetherfield Ltd)
By controlling airtightness according to the conservation needs of the exhibits, display cases can be filtered or ventilated in a regulated manner. Engineering the airtightness of cases is key, and to measure this parameter two methods are being used:
- Measurement of the dilution of a tracer gas (CO2 added to an elevated concentration) over time, and
- Measurement of the positive or negative pressure differentials caused by the measured airflow into (i.e. pressurisation) or out of (i.e. depressurisation) cases.
|An orthographic-view (main) and plan perspective (overlay) of the 20 m3 thermally-stable test-room with two display cases and the distribution of environment and tracer gas sensors
Under test: a 1 m3 industry-produced display case with unframed door
Effects on air exchange caused by the ambient environment, not just the sealing quality of a display case, are recognised. So environmental simulations in a temperature-stable (±0.05 °C day-1) room are being undertaken while monitoring the interiors and exteriors of the cases for temperature, pressure and relative humidity.
|Evaluating case airtightness prototypes by the tracer gas decay method while cycling temperature
James Crawford BAppSc (Cons. Cult. Mats.) MCons (App. Cons.) MPhil (Phys.)
Prof Mark Dowsett University of Warwick
Prof Annemie Adriaens Universiteit Gent
David Thickett English Heritage
Collaborators & funders
|jamesbcrawford76 at gmail dot com
|J dot B dot Crawford at warwick dot ac dot uk
|Tel: +44 (0)24765 72840
|Mob: +44 (0)7514 807 366
|Fax: +44 (0)24761 50897
|Department of Physics
|University of Warwick
|Gibbet Hill Road
|Coventry CV4 7AL