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Thursday, May 16 • 3:30pm - 4:00pm
16. A Project with Potential: Evaluating a New Monitoring System for Artifacts Undergoing Electrochemical Treatment

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Conservation personnel at The Mariners’ Museum and Park (TMMP) in Newport News, Virginia have undertaken the treatment of 210 tons of excavated materials from the wreck site of the American Civil War ironclad USS Monitor over the last 20 years. Many of the recovered objects have been placed under electrolytic reduction (ER) treatment to facilitate the breakdown of corrosion products and the extraction of chlorides that are the result of marine burial. Reference electrodes are employed to identify object potentials and monitor the electrochemical process. Early in the project, a centralized data acquisition system was installed which could record multiple months of information to determine efficiency of the treatments over time by capturing the voltage and pH data. However, one of the major drawbacks of the system was that once set in record mode, it was not possible to see what was actively happening electrochemically with the objects. In 2015, conservators on the project identified the Multitrend GR graphic recording system by Honeywell as a recording system that maintains an active display, allows remote real time monitoring and downloading of the data, and collects information on potential, pH, and temperature. Upon receiving a grant through the Institute of Museum and Library Services, TMMP was able to acquire the system and install it in the spring of 2017. The system has proven valuable in the reliability of its recording, and the consistency of the entire system over the last year. This project provides insight in the use of constant monitoring data systems, and the system in use at TMMP is applicable to projects in laboratory settings or in remote locales. This poster highlights what the authors learned in setting up their data collection system, the challenges of installing a monitoring system over substantial distances for multi-thousand liter tanks containing strong chemical mixtures, and how using this system has enhanced the treatment of the USS Monitor collection.

avatar for William Hoffman

William Hoffman

Director of Conservation, The Mariners' Museum
Will Hoffman received his Master's degree in art conservation from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario in 2009 specializing in the conservation of objects. He received Bachelors’ degrees in Anthropology and Fine Arts at The State University of New York College at Buffalo in... Read More →

avatar for Molly McGath

Molly McGath

Conservation Scientist, The Mariners' Museum and Park
Molly K. McGath is the Analytical Chemist at The Mariners' Museum and Park. McGath received her doctorate from the University of Arizona in Materials Science and Engineering with a focus in Conservation Science.Her current research includes studying the deterioration mechanisms of... Read More →

Thursday May 16, 2019 3:30pm - 4:00pm EDT
Uncas Ballroom Foyer Sky Convention Center, Mohegan Sun