Art & History Challenge

How can be use  microbial organisms I our benefit to protect cultural and natural heritages?

Cultural and natural heritages are continuously damaged and disaggregated, for example by rainwater with varying chemistry and temperature. Fluids are the major driver of weathering through several processes such as dissolution, precipitation, frost and salt weathering.

In this challenge we will investigate a potential solution: microbial organisms can benefit and protect cultural and natural heritages by producing bio‑cement in their pores, preventing penetration and damage by fluids.

Figure 2: growing biomass in porous material pores. Credit: Mandan Samari

Geoscientist will contribute by their ability to determine physical parameters of the monument rock type and their effect on water and bacteria penetration also by computer modelling. The members from physics will support with finding the best techniques for imaging of samples and bio-cement, whilst chemists can best determine surface chemistry of the monument rock grains and that of bio-cement. The knowledge of members with a bio-medical background is used to investigate transport and penetration of bacteria that can produce bio-cements into monument samples. Through this combined investigation, physical, chemical and biological processes affecting bacterial growth (and that could be used to stimulate them) as well as uniformity of bio-cement can be understood.