Polymer preservatives – PEG and chitosan hydrogels – protect wooden artefacts

Wooden artefacts such as the Mary Rose, are typically treated with polyethylene glycol (PEG) solutions to prevent the wood from shrinking as it loses water molecules and dries out. PEG as preservatives works by replacing the water molecules held by cells within the wood. Recently, a novel polymer hydrogel that soaks into wood and provides artefacts with structural support while also protecting against biological degradation has been developed by scientists and their work was published in the journal of Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS). The polymer hydrogel could be an alternative solution for tackling the main issues conservators face when treating and drying historical items. The polymer hydrogel treatment contains the naturally occurring polymer chitosan, extracted from shrimp shells, functionalized with a host molecule, cucurbit[8]uril, to form a cross-linked polymer network which provide structural stability.

Creative PEGWorks provides a unique collection of PEG and chitosan polymers for the R&D and manufacturing industry.

Multifunctional supramolecular polymer networks as next-generation consolidants for archaeological wood conservation, PNAS 2014 111 (50) 1774317748


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