NCPTT supports the development and transfer of technologies to the field of preservation through its annual Preservation Technology and Training Grant Program (PTT Grants). The PTT Grants program funds projects that develop new technologies or adapt existing technologies to preserve cultural resources. In August, NCPTT announced the 2011 PTT Grants call for proposals. The deadline for submission to the program was October 15, 2010. NCPTT received 33 completed proposals, with funding requests totaling more than $696,000. NCPTT expects to award about $250,000 in the 2011 grants cycle. Announcement of the grants should take place in March 2011, pending availability of funds. Grants are awarded competitively with a maximum award of $25,000 (including indirect costs). All grants require a one-to-one match of cash or in-kind services. The matching funds requirement allows NCPTT to effectively leverage its research funds.
2010 PTT Grants Program
In March, NCPTT announced its 2010 grant awards to universities, non-profit organizations, and federal, state, and local agencies to apply new and emerging technologies to the nation’s cultural treasures. In all, 14 grants totaling $320,000 in federal funds were awarded from a pool of 41 complete applications. These grants leveraged $426,000 in cash and in-kind matching funds contributed by the grantees.
2010 PTT Grants Updates:
Improve Method for Repairing Wooden Structural Beams in Bandelier Civilian Conservation Corps National Historic District (2010)
Bandolier National Park staff members are developing an innovative method for repairing wooden structural beams within the park’s Civilian Conservation Corps National Historic District. They are researching an alternative to epoxy repairs to structural beams called “vigas” that run through the Pueblo Revival style buildings. They are engineering a threaded replacement system. To date the progress on this project includes the development of specifications and drawings, construction of a prototype, design improvements and construction of a final tool set.
Protecting Gullah Land and Community: A Locative Media Website for Tourism, Community Planning and Education (2010)
Researchers at the University of Massachusetts are creating a locative media website that conveys the importance of land, place, and spatial organization to the Gullah, and the impact of impending development on their way of life. The principal investigator has submitted an interim report. Tasks completed or underway include review of Gullah culture history, land pattern formation, and historical bond to land documents; video-taped interviews with Gullah residents; and identification of primary documents to illustrate the website storyline.
Structural Health Monitoring of Nation’s Cultural Heritage (2010)
Structural health monitoring monitors vibration responses to detect changes in the structural state of a building. This project addresses practical and technical difficulties of applying this technique to historic masonry monuments. The team from Clemson University Department of Civil Engineering is developing a best-practices guide for use by preservation professionals. The team recently submitted a paper based on their work to the North American Masonry Conference and is currently preparing two papers for publication.
Creation of a website and online community forum for Osteoware, a software application for human skeleton documentation (2010)
The Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History team released the Osteoware software program to the public for beta testing on March 6. The software is being tested on a range of computer systems across the United States and Canada, England, Australia, and Belgium. The project team plans for the full software release at a major academic conference in the spring of 2011.
Molecular Characterization and Technical Study of Historic Aircraft Windows and Head Gear Using Portable Raman (2010)
The National Air and Space Museum researchers have generated a project specific database using Filemaker Pro. Additionally, they have completed the literature review and bibliography. Seventy-seven artifacts have been selected for analysis. The project has been slightly delayed due to a roof collapse at the National Air and Space Museum Garber Facility.
Using Quantum Dots to Tag Consolidants to Determine Depth of Penetration (2010)
The quantum dot project, designed to explore the use of nanoparticle markers on chemical consolidants to aid in establishing penetration depth, is moving forward as scheduled. To prepare for the actual testing the New York State Park researchers have established a protocol for their practical research to ensure a level of consistency and accuracy. In addition, they have purchased most of the necessary equipment, gathered materials and prepared test samples.
Digital Recovery of Water Damaged Manuscripts using a Transportable Multispectral Imaging Laboratory (2010)
The University of Mississippi researchers report that a cost-effective transportable multispectral imaging lab has been built and tested in the field on a water-damaged manuscript in Dresden, Germany. The team captured more that 270 images, which are now being processed and rendered.
Development of a micro-fading tester with near-UV capability for non-destructive evaluation of color stability on cultural property (2010)
Carnegie Mellon University is developing a micro-fading tester with near UV capability. The research team has analyzed chromatic aberrations in the standard microfading tester optical system and established a protocol to reproducibly include near-UV wavelengths. The principal investigator reports that the project is on schedule. Massachusetts Heritage Landscape Atlas (2010)
Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation is creating a Massachusetts heritage landscape atlas. The team has made progress in both additional data entry for community data and through the development of a database format for the heritage landscape atlas. NCPTT received an interim report from the team.
Historic Concrete and Masonry Assessment by the Air-coupled Impact-Echo Method (2010)
Pennsylvania State University is developing assessment techniques for historic concrete and masonry using air-coupled impact echo-methods. This “air-coupled” procedure is relatively easy to implement and does not require direct contact between the receiver and the material being evaluated. Thus far, the team has assembled an air-coupled impact echo apparatus and has begun an initial field trial on an 1860’s multi-wythe brick building undergoing repairs. The team is modifying the programming of the system to be more adaptable in the field.
Preservation Reengineering Workshop: Finding Green Environmental Management in Vernacular Historic Buildings (2010)
Based on a number of years of environmental monitoring at the Pitot House in New Orleans, La., the Louisiana Landmarks Society will host a workshop that investigates and develops approaches to removing 20th century climate control systems in 19th century structures and replacing them with more natural, sustainable, and “green” systems. The workshop will be held April 7-8, 2011.
Preservation Protection of Historic Wooden Structures User Guide (2010)
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service is developing a user guide and online tool detailing the latest methods to preserve historic wooden structures. Despite administrative delays, the Forest Service has received funding and developed the outline of the guide. Additionally, a contract has been issued to Anthony & Associates to serve as a preservation consultant on the project.
Materials Characterization Utilizing Advanced Spectral Imaging (2010)
Researchers at the Library of Congress are furthering materials characterization techniques by adding polarizing light and 3D fluorescence methods to multispectral imaging. Necessary equipment has been purchased and working protocols are under development. Test and augment new cultural resource spatial data standards to make GIS more useful to cultural resource managers (2010) Carlsbad Caverns National Park is evaluating new cultural resource spatial data standards that are used in Geographic Information Systems. The project is moving forward, but NCPTT funds were not used due to administrative issues at the park. The PTT grant was cancelled.
University of Arizona, Department of Materials Science & Engineering to enhance the Xeroradiography Center at the University of Arizona. As this grant was awarded in September of 2010 no updates are available.
Abyssinian Development Corporation to create a preservation masonry training manual for high school age students. As this grant was awarded in September of 2010 no updates are available.
Update on Other Outstanding PTT Grants:
A Comprehensive Training Program for 3D Digital Rock Art Documentation and Preservation (2009)
Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) is the most significant imaging breakthrough for archaeological and heritage documentation and preservation since stereo photogrammetry. Based on internationally developed, state-of-the-art, open source, and freely available software, RTI provides flexible, very cost effective tools and methods for the on-site, three-dimensional (3D), full-color digital capture of rock art, petroglyphs, and artifacts, with accuracy measured in the microns. A two day workshop was held at the Presidio of San Francisco in July 2009. Fourteen participants from around the US and 2 from the UK attended the workshop. NCPTT has received a final report and deliverables.
A Polymeric Treatment for Controlling Salt Damage to Stone and Brick (2009)
Dr. George Scherer of Princeton University is investigating a polyacrylic acid (PAA) polymeric treatment for controlling salt damage on limestone. To date, he has determined the amount of polymer applied to the stone, and the amount that is retained after exposure to water and salt solutions. He has prepared a series of samples for warping tests by impregnating them with sodium sulfate. A paper on the warping method for measuring crystallization stress has been submitted to the Journal of Geological Research. Autopsies on the stones from the capillary rise experiment are currently being performed. The results of these experiments and the warping tests will be written up for publication by the end of this year.
Assessment of Handheld Multibeam Sonar Imagery for the Study of Submerged Cultural Resources (2009)
The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum received a 2009 grant to evaluate the use of handheld multibeam sonar for the non-invasive documentation of submerged cultural resources. In October 2009, LCMM executed the underwater fieldwork related to this grant. A handheld sonar (Blueview 990/2200 dual frequency sonar) was evaluated on two Lake Champlain shipwrecks: the steamboat Champlain and a wooden barge. The results suggested that the sonar was highly efficient at guiding a diver in low visibility conditions to the shipwreck site. However, the imagery collected, although much more detailed than typical side scan sonar, lacked sufficient resolution to be used as a substitute for diver documentation of a site. These results were presented by Adam Kane, LCMM Nautical Archaeologist, at the annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology in Jacksonville, Fla., in January 2010.
Preservation of Human Dental Surface Micro-Topography with Three-Dimensional Non-Destructive Digital Imaging (2009)
Dr. Shannon Hodge of Middle Tennessee State University is testing the applicability of existing three-dimensional digital dental imaging technology for creating research-quality digital models of human dental surface micro-topography. She is using computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing technology to digitize human teeth from archeological contexts and produce microscopically-accurate porcelain replicas. Hodge will give a podium presentation on this research at the Southeastern Archaeological Conference on Oct. 28, 2010. The final report is expected by the end of November.
Creation of a Web-accessible Database of the Comparative Plant Fiber Collection (2009)
Dr. Kathryn Jakes of Ohio State University completed the Fiber Reference Image Library (FRIL), a web-accessible database of digital images, explanatory text, and terminology documents. The database allows ethnobotanists, archaeologists and analysts of material culture to glean critical information from artifacts under their study through comparison to fiber morphological characteristics. The database is available at http://fril.osu.edu. NCPTT has received a final report and deliverables.
Development of Ceramic Reference Materials for Calibration and Quantification of Portable XRF Data (2009)
Dr. Caitlin O’Grady reports that progress has been made in determining the physical and chemical parameters needed to produce the main product of this grant: the ceramic reference materials. Also, research has focused on identifying low-fired ceramics wares of interest, as well as the sites that produced them in the prehistoric Mid-Atlantic region – in particular differentiating between low-fired ceramics produced in the James River drainage and the Potomac River drainage. Dr. O’Grady has received a one-year no-cost extension for the project.
Evaluation of Ca(OH)2 Nano-Particle Treatment of Cordage/Basketry (2009)
Researchers at the Arizona State Museum (ASM) are evaluating the impact and effectiveness of calcium hydroxide nanoparticles on archeological cordage. The ASM conservation lab has successfully produced nano-particles of Ca(OH)2 that penetrate cordage samples. The team has identified isopropanol as a suitable carrier solvent for short solvent exposure times in desiccated cordage. Currently they are developing testing methods to measure accelerated artificial handling using ultrasonic sonication, mechanical shaking, and strain-strength tensile testing. ASM researcher Dr. Nancy Odegaard received a one-year no-cost extension for the project.
Fire Safety for Historic Buildings – Teaching Modules (2009)
This grant project created teaching modules for delivery to preservation conferences and academic institutions covering such fire safety topics as fire prevention; code requirements; fire safe construction; fire detection and suppression; and fire-safe renovation. Each module is being compiled electronically for optimum dissemination and presentation technology. Outlines for all five of the proposed modules have been developed. Draft presentation formats for two of the modules were used for a workshop delivered to the Colorado Preservation Institute conference “Saving Places” on Feb. 3, 2010. Work continues on refining these modules and formatting the remaining three modules.
Preservation of Historic Iron and Steel in Bridges (2009)
A workshop on the “Preservation of Historic Iron and Steel in Bridges and Other Metal Structures,” was held on March 8-10 at the Lansing Community College in Lansing, Mich. The first day featured eight lectures on different aspects of historic metal bridge construction and preservation. The final two days of the workshop were filled with hands-on demonstrations where the participants learned a variety of techniques from riveting to the welding of cast iron. NCPTT has received a final report and deliverables.
The Tutuila Basalt Export Industry: Leveraging Resources to Train Native American Samoans in Preservation Technology (2009)
While work on the project has begun, it has been hindered by the devastating tsunami that struck the American Samoan Islands in September 2009. David Addison, the principal investigator, has requested a one-year no-cost extension for the project.
Web-Accessible Training in Thin-Section Petrography of Cultural Materials (2009)
Dr. Chandra Reedy at the University of Delaware developed a series of online tutorials geared to conservators and conservation scientists interested in learning how to interpret thin sections of cultural materials. She created the tutorials in open source Renp’y so they are freely downloadable for Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms. The online tutorial is nearly complete and is undergoing beta-testing and review. Final deliverables are expected soon.
What’s Out There – An Interactive Catalog of Designed American Cultural Landscapes (2009)
The searchable website has been created and is in beta testing with database population underway. The website is searchable by landscape type, style, site name, designer name, design firm, geographic region, and associated historic persons. A substantial working database is live and available for free public use on the TCLF website (www.tclf.org). NCPTT has received a final report and deliverables.
FAIC Conservation Catalog Wiki (2008)
On Oct. 1, 2009, the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (FAIC) launched a new wiki website based on a digital version of the conservation catalog literature. The site, www.conservation-wiki.com, provides much broader access to conservation catalog resources, ensuring that innovative methods and materials are documented and widely disseminated to practicing conservators and conservation scientists. NCPTT has received a final report and deliverables.
Historic Windows Assessment Project (2008)
This study originally aimed to evaluate the energy performance of historic windows, but now will focus on a life cycle analysis of historic windows. The National Trust for Historic Preservation will perform a life cycle assessment of the environmental impacts associated with the manufacture, use and disposal of new windows, compared with the environmental costs of retrofitting existing windows. This study should provide valuable information about the environmental impacts associated with different window options.
New Technology, New Opportunities: Development of a National Chert Characterization Database (2008)
Dr. James McCrorey Lawton Jr, at the Center for Archaeology, Tulane University, is using portable X-ray fluorescence to create a database of chemical “fingerprints” of large quantities of chert. The technique allows for inexpensive, rapid analysis of this archeological material. To date, Lawton has focused his work on collecting and analyzing source materials and artifacts from a three state area. He reports delays within the project, but plans to have the work completed by March 2011. Lawton has received a one-year no-cost extension.
Rapid Quantification of Ceramic Paste Recipes Using Digital Camera Capture and Image Analysis (2008)
This project will develop and test a technique to measure the abundance and size of ceramic temper that is orders of magnitude faster and less expensive than previous techniques. Using digital cameras and multiple lights to capture images of exposed sherd edges, and image analysis software to process the images, this technique collects a set of detailed quantitative measurements. Dr. Patrick Livingood reports that the primary data-gathering apparatus was assembled by January 2009 and the Moon Site ceramics were moved to the Southeastern Archaeological Laboratory in October of 2009. With the help of five work study students he has been gathering images of the sherd edges since January. The team originally estimated 25,000 sherds were to be photographed, but now estimate the count will be closer to 20,000. Dr. Livingood has received a no-cost extension.
Sustainable Fiber Reinforced Mortar (FRM) Mixtures for the Preservation of Unreinforced Masonry Architectural Heritage (2008)
Dr. Ece Erdogmus, at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, investigated and compared sustainable and organic fiber options to more commonly used, synthetic options to encourage sustainability in rehabilitation projects. This project proved that the inclusion of fibers in mortars can effectively increase the strength and ductility of both Portland-cement lime and hydraulic lime mortars, however, in varying levels and not always consistently. Treated cornsilk fibers proved to be a promising sustainable fiber option as the strength increase and ductility levels were comparable to those of synthetic fibers. Data collected in the study is available on a free internet website provided at www.unl.edu/ae_frm. NCPTT has received a final report and deliverables.