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University of Delaware

High-tech analysis of historic bricks

Center for Historic Architecture and Design receives preservation grant

The University of Delaware's Center for Historic Architecture and Design (CHAD) in the Joseph R. Biden, Jr. School of Public Policy and Administration has been awarded a grant from the National Park Service’s National Center for Preservation Technology and Training to develop methods to enhance documentation and analysis of porosity in deteriorated historic bricks for preservation studies.

The project will use high-resolution micro-CT scanning available in UD’s Advanced Materials Characterization Lab, a technique more often used in medical diagnostics and composites studies. This state-of-the-art instrumentation will be combined with new capabilities in 3D image analysis to map and analyze porosity and pore systems in historic bricks.

Architectural brick is found at historic sites throughout the U.S. Fired to a lower peak temperature than modern bricks, it is often quite porous and susceptible to deterioration. Many deterioration mechanisms can affect the bricks, especially when large and connected pores increase the movement of moisture, salts and pollutants. Imaging and quantifying pore structures and networks helps assess and document the state of deterioration before and after cleaning or other treatments occur and also helps guide the most appropriate treatment choices.

Chandra L. Reedy, a professor in the Biden School and director of CHAD, is the project’s principal investigator. This work builds on her extensive experience with quantitative porosity studies using polarized light microscopy coupled with 2D image analysis, a long-term specialization of CHAD’s Laboratory for Analysis of Cultural Materials. While this project focuses on historic brick, the results will be relevant to other architectural, archaeological or historic ceramic materials.

For further information, please visit: https://www.bidenschool.udel.edu/chad/

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