A New Method for Drying Wet Books using Super Absorbent Polymers as Desiccant
Award last edited on: 5/1/2007

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Principal Investigator
N G Yeager

Company Information

Artifex Equipment Inc

PO Box 319
Penngrove, CA 94951
   (707) 338-1155
Location: Single
Congr. District: 05
County: Sonoma

Phase I

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Water damage to library materials is an inherent problem for collections of books and documents. Wet books take many days to air dry. Commercial food freeze-drying has been used to remove moisture from wet books and has been instrumental in handling thousands of wet items as a result of floods and plumbing leaks. This method can cause collateral damage; material has to be moved off-site and can take up to six months for processing. Paper is hydroscopic; a bound book can absorb 60% to 200% of its original weight in water. The major damage to bound books is caused by swelling and can force the text block to become detached from its binding. Wet books are subject to mechanical, chemical, and cosmetic damage within hours of becoming damp. Develop a commercially viable method for drying wet books using an organic polymer. Current technology is primarily high-tech, equipment-intensive and fails to address a number of needs within the disaster recovery field. Benefits include: Low-tech method that can be used by a variety of practitioners to get positive results. Speed recovery time to minutes instead of days per book. Delivery system(s) that are portable allowing workers to perform onsite recovery. Potential for cleaner books with little or no residual damage or staining. Low cost per book. Utility for single items or mass treatment with equal benefit. OBJECTIVES: Demonstrate that an organic polymer is effective in drying wet books in minutes; easy to use; may be desiccated for reuse, and can be utilized onsite in a library disaster. Develop suitable, safe and affordable delivery systems configured to remove moisture from books and manuscripts. The subsequent delivery systems efficacy will be tested on variables such as paper, bindings and ink. These results will be compared and contrasted to currently used methods for drying books to determine: Relative cost/savings; time and transportation savings; and success in recovering materials undamaged. Tests will also focus on the water-retention capability of the material as a humidity agent where a sustained, higher humidity is necessary to relax brittle paper or other material. APPROACH: Develop delivery system(s) and determine the best host material. Ascertain how much absorbent should be distributed in the host material. Conduct experiments using the delivery system on wet materials and observe the effects on the many variables. Compared to the amount of water absorbed by the book, determine water quantity removed, and elapsed time. Determine if a stain or residue from the absorbent is deposited on the wet object's surface. Modify the delivery system(s) based on experiment results, observations, and according to variables

Phase II

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