Carbon dioxide has long been known for its insecticidal properties and was used mostly as a fumigant carrier in grain bins. Unlike nitrogen, CO2 does not solely rely on anoxia to be lethal. It may be more toxic in presence of oxygen and causes dehydration in the insect’s body because of water loss.
Many museums used extensively carbon dioxide during the last decade to treat their artifacts with success. This inert gas offers many advantages, the non-deleterious effects on artifacts being the most important.
Maheu&Maheu developed a system to create modified atmospheres which involves many components, the most important being the fumigation bubble. The bubble is available in various standard sizes and can be custom made, with or without a frame. This is a 2 parts chamber: the top is zipped to the bottom with a special tool once the artifacts are inside and the polymer of its walls enable the system to contain carbon dioxide and other inert gasses for long periods. This is one of the best barriers against oxygen.
The concentration of the inert gas is monitored throughout the exposure period. When CO2 is used, a infra-red carbon dioxide sensor is connected to the monitor of the analyzer. The display gives a carbon dioxide concentration. This analyzer is then connected to a data logger (SmartReader SR-007) that collects the 4-25 milliamps (mA) analog output signal. Those values are transferred to CO2 concentrations through the data logger software. Temperature and relative humidity are sampled inside the bubble using a transducer sending voltage signals to the data logger.
The TrendReader Windows software running on your computer allows to see the real time data. Also, you can get graphs and statistics at the end of the treatment as it is used to download the information gathered throughout the exposure period. You can then see the run in progress from a distance, with software like TeamViewer or LogMeIn.
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