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Thermography aids preservation of historical buildings

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The preservation and renovation of historical buildings in Italy is being aided by thermography data. Thermography consultancy agency, IR HotSpot, based in Altamura, Italy, has been using a Flir thermal imaging camera to conduct thermographic surveys of buildings to identify water damage and other defects.

'There’s a large amount of different building issues you can detect with thermal imaging technology and the great thing of this technology is that there is no risk at all for the building. It is a non-invasive method, so it is completely safe,’ commented Rosario Piergianni, thermography expert at IR HotSpot.

Piergianni is using the Flir SC660, an advanced model containing an uncooled microbolometer detector which provides a resolution of 640 x 480 pixels and a thermal sensitivity of 30mK (0.03°C). The camera can detect a variety of building issues. ‘We can detect the presence of moisture due to condensation or capillary rise. This can damage the plaster or fresco. Also we can detect the presence of mould below the surface,’ explained Piergianni.

The thermal imaging camera can also be used to check the state of adhesion between plaster and the underlying structure or to detect hidden cracks and the presence of infill. It can also be used to spot previous renovations and hidden structures, as well as detect damage caused by an earthquake for instance.

‘We investigate convective airflows around works of art that can cause the art to deteriorate if left unchecked and give advice on changes in the heating and ventilation systems to avoid this,’ Piergianni continued. ‘We also study the process of disintegration of building materials, particularly the calcarenite, or dune limestone, that is often used in historical buildings in this area. On the outside of the building we also check for the build-up of anthropogenic surface deposits caused by pollution.’

To enable them to perform all of these inspections Piergianni and his colleague Vito Basile have both followed Flir training courses at the Infrared Training Center (ITC).

‘This diagnostic technique helps us to better direct renovations and to improve the efficiency of renovation projects from start to finish,’ added Piergianni. ‘The Flir SC660 thermal imaging camera’s advanced features help to quickly scan large areas to assess what can be restored.’

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