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TECHNICAL PROTECTION for the historical - cultural heritage

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[Sensor_pH]Commercial_sheet_UPM_EN(Innovatech) PDF

Portable electronic system capable of measuring the environmental acidity and facilitate preventive conservation of the historical - cultural heritage and its safety.

Researchers from the Investigation and Intrumentation Grouo of the Technical University of Madrid (UPM) have collaborated with the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) for the development of an innovative electronic system able to measure and monitor environmental acidity (pH) in the air. The acidity is responsible, in specific circumstances, of chemical attacks against materials and living organisms. The main characteristics of the solution (tested in real environments) are the low cost of production, not-energy consumption and minimum installation requirements. Initially developed as a solution for conservation of the historical - cultural heritage, the system has potential applications in the chemical, food processing and environmental industry, among others.

Technology Solution

The solution is a portable electronic system for automatic determination of environmental acidity (pH) in any state of matter, liquid or solid damp and also gas (e.g. air).

The data capture component is based on the technology of sol-gel optical sensors capable of assessing environmental conditions of acidity. This optical response is measured by reading units, quantified and converted to an electrical signal that can be processed to monitor optimally and remotely, environmental acidity. Compared to conventional systems, the proposed sensor system is a global pioneer in measuring the pH in the air in both open and closed environments.

“The application of innovative technologies for cultural heritage preservation is key to ensuring cultural tourism, which in Spain attracts 7.5 million foreign visitors and generates more than 6,000 million euros in revenue”

Market demands

  • Increasing greenhouse gas emissions (CO2, SO2 ...) from engine combustion or industrial processes:  Total emissions for 2010 were 30.6 Gigatonnes, 5% higher than the previous record year in 2008, according to an International Energy Agency
  • In combination with the ambient humidity, the acidity generated can attack materials and living beings in the form of acid rain for example. In urban and industrial environments, environmental acidity (pH) is especially dangerous, with values distant from the neutral value 7.0.
  • Environments generally not controlled due to installation complexity and lack of specific means.
  • Much of the materials with historical and heritage interest (metals and alloys, glass, textiles, organic ...) are especially sensitive to polluted environments, as well as emissions of certain materials of the windows or exhibitors.
  • In recent years, the deterioration of the properties of historical and cultural heritage has been accelerated by the increased pollution and the lack of preventive maintenance systems.
  • In other industries, such as food processing, chemical, fish farming, water treatment or security, productivity and safety levels are in danger due to a lack of effective environmental control.

“The Spanish heritage is one of the largest reserves of cultural capital of the world, comprises a stock of physical goods only comparable to that of Italy or France"

Market potential

  • Public and private investment in the field of conservation and management of cultural and historical heritage amounts to 1,864 M € in 2004 (0.22% of GDP) [Fundación Caja Madrid]
  • Tourism contributes 5% of the world's GDP and almost 12% in the Spanish GDP. [World Travel and Tourism Council]
  • Spain is the 2nd country with the largest number of property declared as World Heritage Sites. [UNESCO]
  • 89% of the motivations of the cultural tourism are based on heritage tourism (museums, historic areas ...). [European Association for Tourism and Leisure Education]
  • Conservation & Restoration Subsector of artistic heritage in Spain consists of 44 specialized enterprises, with a turnover of 205 M € in 2008, and more than 600 enterprises indirectly [ARESPA].
Competitive advantages

  • Innovative device capable of measuring the environmental pH in the air, both open and closed environments
  • Low cost sensors (cost price € 0.1) mechanically simple and with minimal installation requirements
  • No power supply required: ability to monitor for long periods of time or in remote environments.
  • Small size: the base where the sensor base material is placed is 30x25 mm. It is possible to miniaturizing
  • Chemical and thermal stability (-5/60 ºC)

  • Multidisciplinary successful collaboration between the CSIC and the UPM.
  • Solution validated in various buildings and heritage sites (eg. Wilanów Royal Palace in Warsaw, 3,200 m2 of documentary of Tomás Navarro Tomás Library – CSIC; CSIC Headquarters; Church of the Holy Spirit in Madrid, etc.).

  • Patent granted in Spain ES2373138
Development stage

  • Concept
  • R&D
  • Lab-Prototype
  • Industrial prototype
  • Production

Solution contact

Guillermo de Arcas, Eduardo Barrera, Juan Manuel López

e: {g.dearcas, eduardo.barrera, juanmanuel.lopez}@upm.es

UPM  contact

Innovation, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship Area

Centre of Support for Technological Innovation – UPM

e: innovacion.tecnologica@upm.es 

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