Nanomaterials for preserving Cultural Heritage: consolidants, hydrophobic and superhydropobic agents and self-cleaning photocatalysts

María MOSQUERA (Universidad de Càdiz, Spain)

In recent decades, the alarming growth of environmental pollution in European cities has seriously affected the conservation and maintenance of historic buildings. To date most of products commonly employed in the restoration and conservation have not been specifically developed for preserving such elements of Cultural Heritage. In addition, they are plagued by limited performance and structural drawbacks, such as low adhesion, poor penetration and cracking. Another disadvantage is the requirement for most products to be dissolved in volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which produces environmental and human health risks in their use.

Our research group has developed a surfactant-assisted sol-gel synthesis to produce, in situ, on the monumental building, crack-free nanomaterials to be used as long-term consolidants. Additional, hydrophobic, water repellent and self-cleaning properties have been incorporated into the product, by innovative chemical modifications of the proposed synthesis route. Specifically, the drawbacks associated with the commercial products such as cracking, short-lasting effectiveness, poor penetration depth, low adherence, low chemical affinity to the stones and high content in volatile organic compounds (VOCs) have been eliminated or minimized in the synthesis routes developed. Finally, it is important to remark that these products provide integral protection for monumental buildings consisting of advanced consolidation, water-repellent and self-cleaning properties.

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