Textile conservation goes green

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A group of Portuguese scientists has developed an environmentally-friendly method of cleaning ancient textiles. Researchers from the New University of Lisbon used liquid and supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2) to clean the garments of an eighteenth-century sculpture.

Dry cleaning methods are widely used on textiles that are too fragile to withstand wet or mechanical cleaning. Many of the solvents used for this are highly toxic and damaging to the environment.  Carbon dioxide is relatively inert and non-toxic in comparison, and proved to remove  dirt  equally  effectively  without  damaging  the  textile  fibres. "It allows the conservation and restoration of the textile without being harmful to the operator and the environment," said Ana Aguiar-Ricardo, one of the scientists involved in the research project.

 The  clean  art  of  conservation  --  Chemical  Technology  magazine