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Polymer preservatives – PEG and chitosan hydrogels – protect wooden artefacts

Wooden artifacts such as those found on the Mary Rose, are typically treated with polyethylene glycol (PEG) solutions to prevent the wood from shrinking as it loses water molecules and dries out.

How PEGs as Preservatives are Used

PEGs as preservatives work by replacing the water molecules held by cells within the wood. Recently, a novel polymer hydrogel that soaks into the wood and provides artifacts with structural support while also protecting against biological degradation has been developed by scientists and their work was published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS).

This polymer hydrogel could be an alternative solution for tackling the main issues conservators face when treating and drying historical items. The polymer hydrogel treatment contains the naturally occurring polymer chitosan, extracted from shrimp shells, functionalized with a host molecule, cucurbit[8]uril, to form a cross-linked polymer network that provides structural stability.

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Creative PEGWorks provides a unique collection of PEG and chitosan polymers for the R&D and manufacturing industry.