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AO technology’s eco-design and sustainability goals presented at

Life Cycle Management Conference

MOXY project partner, the WeLOOP team obtained their first results on the environmental hotspot analysis of the MOXY technology – the atmospheric plasma-generated monoatomic oxygen – used to restore works of art. The hotspot analysis is performed via Life Cycle Assessment, and the results were presented last week at the 11th International Conference on Life Cycle Management in Lille, France. This conference gathered 950 LCA practitioners from all over the world, and was a great occasion to interact with the community. The hotspot analysis is the first step in the eco-design process of the MOXY device. This analysis will be followed up with an eco-design workshop with the project partners to identify opportunities to decrease impacts, and a comparative LCA in which the MOXY device is compared with alternative cleaning methods, to put its environmental performance in perspective.

The LCM (Life Cycle Management) conference series is one of the world’s leading forums for environmental, economic and social sustainability. The focus is on practical solutions for the implementation of life cycle approaches into strategic and operational decision-making, whether in science, industry, NGOs or public institutions. 

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Please do not touch: novel atmospheric atomic oxygen generator for non-contact cleaning of cultural heritage objects in action

MOXY researchers at Ghent University and the Eindhoven University of Technology continue working on an innovative design of an atmospheric atomic oxygen generator, tailored for cultural heritage applications. The video shows soot removal from a limestone sample. 





MOXY researchers reconstructed NASA's  treatment of Andy Warhol's painting The Bathtub (1961, The Andy Warhol Museum) and presented the results at the TECHNART  2023 conference in Lisbon, May 04-12

The 2023 edition of TECHNART, the international conference, held in Lisbon on May 7-12 in Lisbon, just concluded. The conference had a mission to provide a scientific forum for scientists, conservators, and museum professionals to discuss and communicate the research and innovation related to analytical techniques in the field of art and cultural heritage, to foster contacts and exchange of experiences, making a bridge between science, art, and cultural heritage. The MOXY project team presented their preliminary results in two poster presentations: MOXY Project: a preliminary investigation of non-contact cleaning of some typical art materials using atomic oxygen“ and „A New Look into NASA’s Pioneering Atomic Oxygen Treatment Removing Lipstick Defacement from Andy Warhol’s “Bathtub” (1961)“.  ​ The first poster presented the results from a preliminary study, where 39 mock-ups were produced using a range of artistic supports and media (plaster, limestone, canvas, paper, acrylic, oil paint, and pastel). Mock-ups were exposed to atomic oxygen using the low Earth orbit oxygen environment simulator LEOX at the European Space Agency (ESA). The system operates at low-pressure and uses laser detonation to separate oxygen atoms and produce an effluent of atomic oxygen at 99%, which is directed to the sample holder. Mock-ups were investigated with an array of techniques to obtain an initial assessment of the effects of AO exposure: spectrocolorimetry and reflectance spectroscopy were used to assess color differences and changes in the spectral features; scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and confocal laser microprofilometry (CLM) to evaluate changes in the surface morphology; analytical pyrolysis coupled with gas chromatography and mass spectrometry (Py-GC-MS) to gain insights into molecular effects, and the results were presented in the poster. The results obtained from this preliminary study are very promising since contaminants are successfully removed from the substrates, in particular, soot was removed from plaster, sandstone, and acrylic paint. In this context, a crucial aspect revealed by this study is the fact that the assessment of the cleaning efficiency and the effect of AO on the substrate is not straightforward due to the contact-less and solvent-less nature of the cleaning method. In contact and solvent/gel-based methods, it is often necessary to evaluate the presence of residues on the artwork surface or the degree of diffusion of solvents used for cleaning. Differently from the contact methods, for the AO-cleaning, this is not necessary, as there are no residues, but the possible effects of atomic oxygen on the artwork itself need to be investigated in depth, which calls for new cleaning assessment protocols to be combined with traditional approaches.   ​ The second MOXY poster presented new insights into the origins of AO technology,  which, has its origins in a serendipitous invention, as it started with a defacing lipstick kiss on Andy Warhol’s painting Bathtub (1961) at The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh in 1997. Lipstick is designed for porous substrates, such as human skin, and may be extremely difficult to safely remove from delicate porous modern materials, such as the acrylic paints used by Andy Warhol. When a lipstick-wearing visitor kissed the Bathtub at an event in 1997, Ellen Baxter, the former chief conservator in charge of the treatment, noted that “Of all the paintings there for her to put her lips to, that was the worst one… I couldn’t use typical conservation methods to clean it… It was like trying to take a lipstick stain out of a piece of Kleenex”.  Conservators turned to NASA where Bruce Banks and Sharon Miller were investigating AO erosion on spacecraft materials and had already tested AO treatment under low pressure for fire-damaged paintings. The “Bathtub” required a targeted treatment without placing the painting in a low-pressure chamber, and Banks and Miller pioneered an atmospheric AO apparatus which was moved to the museum and used to remove the lipstick without physically touching the surface. The treatment made headlines in the 1990s but was never repeated until recently when MOXY researchers in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA) began experimenting with AO on typical cultural heritage materials using their low Earth orbit oxygen environment simulator, LEOX and to develop an innovative atmospheric AO technology in the MOXY project.  In the reconstruction of the NASA Warhol treatment, contemporary lipsticks were exposed to AO under low-pressure conditions, which made lipsticks appear lighter but did not remove them. Lipsticks contained red iron oxides, which are not affected by AO. However, the AO role was essential, as it converted organic compounds in the lipstick into volatile byproducts (CO, CO2, H2O vapor), leaving a dry powdery residuum on the surface. This enabled the dry removal of the residual powder using soft natural rubber in a second step, repeating NASA’s methodology. The colorimetric analysis confirmed highly effective recovery, and FTIR-ATR did not identify molecular changes in the substrate after cleaning. The issue of slow treatment (54.9 h) can be resolved by using atmospheric AO technology in development by the MOXY project, which reduces the treatment time from multiple hours to minutes and seconds.  See the poster and read more details on how exactly NASA saved Andy Warhol's painting. The results will be published in the post-prints of TECHNART2023.


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MOXY full paper presentation at the AIC's 51st Annual Meeting May 16

MOXY senior researcher and paintings conservator Nina Olsson presented a full paper talk at the Research and Technical Art Studies working group at the American Institute for Conservation AIC's 51st Annual Meeting on May 16-20, 2023 this year was held under the main theme of "Conservation in the Age of Environmental, Social, and Economic Climate Change".  The meeting addressed urgent present-day issues, from rising global temperatures to international conflicts, political shifts that threaten to erase hard-won rights, and a fragile and unbalanced economy. In this context,  the activist and historian Rebecca Solnit said, “Hope locates itself in the premises that we don’t know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act.” This resonates with the talk presented by Nina, about the new hope and new horizon for green technologies for non-contact cleaning of art works, co-authored by the MOXY project team "A New Horizon for Atomic Oxygen in Sustainable Heritage Conservation: Green Technology for Contactless Cleaning of the Works of ArtResearch & Technical Studies) A New Horizon for Atomic Oxygen in Sustainable Heritage Conservation: Green Technology for Contactless Cleaning of the Works of Art 


Full video presentation on Moxy Youtube channel:



MOXY in the IIC News in Conservation - April - May 2023 

MOXY in the latest April-May 2023 edition of the News in Conservation by the International Institute of Conservation IIC.
Direct link: 


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MOXY in the IIC News in Conservation - December 2022 - January 2023 

MOXY in the latest Dec 2022 - Jan 2023 edition of the News in Conservation by the International Institute of Conservation IIC.
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MOXY in the Italian TGR Leonardo News - November 2022

MOXY researchers prof. Ilaria Bonaduce and dr. Silvia Pizzimenti from the University of Pisa interviewed about the atomic oxygen innovation and  research.  From minute 12.


MOXY mission at the European Space Agency ESA -  2022

The first ever collaboration between cultural heritage and the aerospace science at ESATo explore AO effects on typical cultural heritage materials, 39 mockups were made: plaster, limestone, acrylic paint, canvas, pastel, paper were prepared and experimented on at ESA using the space environment simulator ESTEC TEC-QEE LEOX. The simulator consists of a vessel composed of three compartments separated by an electro-pneumatic valve and an orifice in the main chamber where the samples are exposed to 99% AO under low-pressure conditions, using IR CO2 laser detonation. Preliminary results were investigated in the new paper submitted for the ICOM-CC Valencia 2023 meeting, and is currently undergoing peer-review. 

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MOXY project news by the Restauratoren Nederland, association of professional Dutch art conservators - restorers  

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The MOXY project kick-off meeting at Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium - November 2022

“The Moxy project stands alone in the world as it embarks upon the development of new and non-traditional methods of art restoration that may enable cleaning of artworks not previously possible through the use of atomic oxygen” – with these words NASA scientists Bruce Banks and Sharon Miller, who pioneered atomic oxygen in art conservation, opened the MOXY project kick-off meeting via a virtual bridge between NASA Glenn Center and Ghent University, the coordinator of the new four-year European MOXY project, which started on November 1, 2022. For more details please download MOXY press release.

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