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Materials and technologies for cultural heritage

Keywords: Ancient building materials, deterioration, consolidation, protection, rising damp, salts, self-cleaning
Fig. 1. Lab fixture for investigating rising damp and salts (picture by Elisa Franzoni).
Fig. 2. Marble deterioration (picture by Elisa Franzoni).
Fig. 3. On-site testing of new consolidating materials (picture by Elisa Franzoni).

The research activities range from the characterisation of ancient building materials, to the evaluation of compatibility and durability of conservation materials, to the development of new materials and techniques. Research projects include:

  • innovative inorganic consolidants (hydroxyapatite, silicate consolidants, nanoconsolidants): effectiveness, compatibility and durability;
  • self-cleaning photocatalytic finishing for façades: performance and durability;
  • monitoring and repair of rising damp in masonry: on-site testing, laboratory models, electrokinetic effects, salts crystallisation, resin injections;
  • design of non-conventional and tailored testing procedures;
  • materials of XX Cent. architectural heritage: historic reinforced concrete, decorative mortars and renders;
  • formulation and repair of ancient mortars and stuccoes;
  • sustainable water-repellents.

The Research Unit has been involved in the diagnostic investigations on several Italian and European heritage buildings, e.g. Tiberius bridge in Rimini (I cent.), St. Mark basilica in Venice (XI cent.), Pio Palace at Carpi (XV cent.), Ducal Palace in Mantua (XVI cent.), S. Caterina degli Italiani and Sarria churches in Malta (XVII cent.), Vizzani Palace in Bologna (XVI cent.), Casa Major Pessoa in Aveiro, Portugal (XX cent.) and other Art Nouveau and rationalist buildings.

Collaborations are currently running with several universities and research centres (EMPA, Switzerland; Princeton University, USA; University of Porto, Portugal; Tongji University, China, etc.), and public authorities for conservation.

Industrial research projects concern the development of new materials and/or the testing of performance and durability of conservation products.

The research group is member of the Integrated Research Team “Alma Heritage Science” at the University of Bologna, in the field of heritage conservation, and of the European Construction Technology Platform ECTP. Members of the group are active in RILEM Technical Committees in the relevant fields.

Main publications

Sassoni E., et al. (2017). Influence of mechanical properties, anisotropy, surface roughness and porosity of brick on FRP debonding force, Composites. Part b, Engineering, vol. 108, pp. 257 – 269

Sassoni E., Graziani G., Franzoni E. (2016) An innovative phosphate-based consolidant for limestone. Part 1: Effectiveness and compatibility in comparison with ethyl silicate. Construction and Building Materials, vol. 102, pp. 918-930

Graziani G., Sassoni E., Franzoni E., Scherer G.W. (2016). Hydroxyapatite coatings for marble protection: Optimization of calcite covering and acid resistance. Applied Surface Science, vol. 368, p. 241-257

Franzoni E., Sassoni E., Graziani G. (2015). Brushing, poultice or immersion? The role of the application technique on the performance of a novel hydroxyapatite-based consolidating treatment for limestone. Journal of Cultural Heritage, vol. 16, p. 173-184

Sassoni E., Graziani G., Franzoni E. (2015). Repair of sugaring marble by ammonium phosphate: Comparison with ethyl silicate and ammonium oxalate and pilot application to historic artifact. Materials & Design, vol. 88, p. 1145-1157

Franzoni E., et al. (2015). Solvent-based ethyl silicate for stone consolidation: influence of the application technique on penetration depth, efficacy and pore occlusion. Materials and Structures, vol. 48, p. 3503-3515

Franzoni E., Bandini S., Graziani G. (2014). Rising moisture, salts and electrokinetic effects in ancient masonries: From laboratory testing to onsite monitoring. Journal of Cultural Heritage, vol. 15, p. 112-120

Franzoni E. (2014). Rising damp removal from historical masonries: A still open challenge. Construction and Building Materials, vol. 54, p. 123- 136

Franzoni E., Gentilini G., Graziani G., Bandini S. (2014). Towards the assessment of the shear behaviour of masonry in on-site conditions: A study on dry and salt/water conditioned brick masonry triplets. Construction and Building Materials, vol. 65, p. 405-416

Franzoni E., Fregni A., Gabrielli R., Graziani G., Sassoni E. (2014). Compatibility of photocatalytic TiO2-based finishing for renders in architectural restoration: A preliminary study. Building and Environment, vol. 80, p. 125-135

Franzoni E., Pigino B. and Pistolesi C. (2013). Ethyl silicate for surface protection of concrete: performance in comparison with other inorganic surface treatments. Cement and Concrete Composites, vol. 44, p. 69-76

Franzoni E. and Bandini S. (2012). Spontaneous electrical effects in masonry affected by capillary water rise: The role of salts. Construction and Building Materials, vol. 35, 642-646.

Pigino B., Leemann A., Franzoni E. and Lura P. (2012). Ethyl silicate for surface treatment of concrete - Part II: Characteristics and performance. Cement and Concrete Composites 34 (3), 313-321.

Franzoni E. and Sassoni E. (2011). Correlation between microstructural characteristics and weight loss of natural stones exposed to simulated acid rain. Science of the Total Environment vol. 412-413, 278-285.

Sandrolini F., Franzoni E., Varum H. and Nakonieczny R. (2011). Materials and technologies in Art Nouveau architecture: Façade decoration cases in Italy, Portugal and Poland for a consistent restoration. Informes de la Construccion vol. 63 (524), 5-11.

Research projects

EU H2020-MSCA-IF-2014 (Marie Skłodowska- Curie Actions) Project “Multifunctionalization of hydroxyapatite for the restoration and preventive conservation of marble artworks” (HAP4MARBLE)