Sustainability Issue #1 January 2009

This is printed from sustainability.formas.se, last updated 12/4/2008 8:27:44 AM

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New research initiative will rescue the ship Vasa

The ship Vasa is kept in the Vasa Museum in Stockholm.  Photo: Hans Hammarskiöld

New research initiative will rescue the ship Vasa

The Royal Ship Vasa is one of Sweden's best known and most often visited tourist objectives. The ship and the objects which have been salvaged are a source of knowledge regarding the living conditions, culture and technology in the 17th Century. Formas is now providing financial support for research that will help us preserve the magnificent ship for the future.

How should humidity, temperature and light be controlled so that the Royal Ship Vasa is saved for the future? How much and how fast are the ship's timber and preservatives degraded? And how is the strength of the ship affected by this? Researchers will now investigate the degradation processes in order to determine their rate, inter alia by measuring oxygen consumption. They will also test new methods for removing iron and neutralising acids to stop degradation. A total of MSEK 18 is invested in a large co-funded project.

-    It feels very important to be taking part in research that can help preserve the ship for the future, says Rolf Annerberg, Director General of Research Council Formas, which is one of the funding agencies behind the new research project.

A total of MSEK 18 is invested in the project. Formas is giving MSEK 1.6, Foundation for Strategic Research MSEK 2, Vinnova MSEK 2, and the Swedish Research Council MSEK 0.9. Most of the funds, MSEK 11.6, are contributed by The Swedish Maritime Museum SMM.

The ship weighs almost 1000 tonnes and contains about 2 tonnes of sulphur, several tonnes of iron, and about 50 tonnes of preservatives. The timber, down to a depth of 5-10 mm, is depleted of cellulose. It is bacteria at the bottom of Strömmen which have consumed the cellulose during the 333 years the ship had lain there. Sulphur compounds from the brackish water and from the city's sewage were absorbed by the ship's timbers and are now present in different chemical forms, some free, some bound to iron or components of the timber. The iron contamination comes from e.g. corroded iron bolts and canon balls, and is widespread in the timber. 

The project will test new methods for timber analysis, measurement of gas diffusion and oxygen consumption. It is a comprehensive project, and the several thousands of loose objects require methods different from those needed for the preservation of the large hull. 

The project will be carried out over the period 2009-2011 under the direction of SMM, with the participation of Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences SLU, STFI-Packforsk, Danish National Museum and Royal Institute of Technology KTH.

Responsible for this page: Birgitta Bruzelius

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