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Nanocellulose-based hydrogels for cleaning surfaces of artworks

Grant number: 23/14838-8
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Master
Effective date (Start): February 01, 2024
Effective date (End): July 31, 2025
Field of knowledge:Physical Sciences and Mathematics - Chemistry - Physical-Chemistry
Principal Investigator:Camila Alves de Rezende
Grantee:Isabella de Arandas Silva
Host Institution: Instituto de Química (IQ). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:21/12071-6 - Tailoring colloids through supramolecular interactions: from fundamentals to applications, AP.TEM
Associated scholarship(s):24/06519-2 - Assessment of the applicability and performance of nanocellulose-based hydrogels for the surface cleaning of artworks, BE.EP.MS


The cleaning steps are crucial to ensure the conservation of cultural heritage objects, and conventional protocols for removing dirt (such as dust, grease, repaints, and oxidized varnishes) typically involve the application of aqueous or organic solvents directly on the surface of artworks. However, this approach may have disadvantages both for the artwork itself, because of excessive solvent penetration, and for the restorer's health, due to the use of potentially toxic volatile solvents. In this context, this project aims to investigate conditions for preparing gels for surface cleaning of artworks using cellulose extracted from sugarcane bagasse, a highly available agroindustrial waste in Brazil. While gels offer the advantage of more controlled and selective cleaning, owing to their high solvent retention capacity, there are few commercially available gels for this purpose, with most being based on non-biodegradable synthetic polymers derived from petroleum. The strategy to be adopted in this project will be the conversion of cellulose fibers into nanocelluloses, which have a high capacity for gel formation, combined with other polymers such as polyethylene glycol with crosslinkers that are non-toxic and environmentally friendly, such as citric acid. Morphological characterizations, mechanical properties, and water retention capacity will be used to determine the most suitable gels for cleaning artwork prototypes. This project, which is part of the international consortium GREENART (GREen ENdeavor in Art ResToration), aims to contribute to the valorization of material cultural heritage and promote positive impacts in economic and environmental aspects by using an agricultural waste to produce high added value materials.

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