July 1999 Issue 32
Energy Efficient Pollution Control in Museums and Galleries
The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions is funding a research project focussed on efficient pollution control in museums and galleries, under the Partners in Innovation Programme. The research involves a unique partnership of heritage organisations, academia and industry; the Museums and Galleries Commission, The Bartlett University College London, EMCEL Filters Ltd, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Museum of London, the Manchester Museum and the Horniman Museum.
What will this research deliver in practice? The aim of the project is to compare the effectiveness of pollution control in air-conditioned and naturally ventilated museum buildings and to investigate ways in which pollution can be controlled while achieving energy savings.
The first part of the project measures concentrations of nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, hydrogen sulphide and particulates in and around the two museums with air-conditioned galleries: the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Museum of London, and the two naturally ventilated museums: The Manchester Museum and the Horniman Museum. The monitoring campaigns will take place in two phases, one during the winter and one in the summer.
At this stage of the 18-month project, the winter campaign has just been completed. Preliminary results show that air-conditioning with chemical filtration has been effective at reducing concentrations of externally generated nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide. Perhaps not surprisingly, it has also been found that one of the naturally ventilated buildings which is well sealed from external conditions, was able to control these pollutants well. Small rooms and a cell-like building layout was found to assist passive pollution control, by restricting the ingress of external air and by increasing the available wall and floor area on to which pollutants can be deposited.
Both airborne and deposited particulates have been measured. In store-rooms it was found that airborne particle concentrations increased when staff or visitor activities took place. Generally these concentrations fell back rapidly to background levels when these activities ceased. In galleries with many visitors, particle concentrations sometimes exceeded levels measured externally. These levels were maintained throughout the day and only declined slowly when the museum was closed.
The highest concentrations of surface-deposited particles in the naturally ventilated buildings were measured externally, at entrances and in the most visited areas. The lowest concentrations were found in rooms such as stores where there was little human activity. Particle deposition in air-conditioned galleries was lower than in the non-air-conditioned store.
These results on the winter monitoring campaign provide a partial picture of indoor air quality in the four participating museums. A summer monitoring campaign will follow. Alterations to the fabric and services, in one of the air-conditioned museums and one of the naturally ventilated museums, are planned in order to test a range of measures that might improve pollution control without incurring an energy penalty. The research will end in March 2000, following which, guidelines for museums, based on the findings of this project, will be published.
For further information contact May Cassar, Museums & Galleries Commission on telephone: 0171-233-4200. You can find the Museums & Galleries Commission at www.museums.gov.uk.