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Cultural heritage
Cultural heritage - Conserving our common legato
“Developing a new way of dealing with salt damage in Europe’s culturally important buildings.”

The problem

Salt weathering causes decay and damage to a wide range of materials, not least in buildings that are important to Europe’s cultural heritage. Salt works itself into stone pores and, in the worst cases, it can cause complete structural disintegration. A number of conservation treatments are available but they do not stop salt damage completely, and in fact research show some can actually exacerbate problems. New conservation treatments are therefore needed that can both prevent salt damage and improve desalination in stonework.

SALTCONTROL  Countering erosion in Europe’s historic buildings


SALTCONTROL aims to develop a new method to prevent salt damage by using compounds that inhibit the growth of salt crystals.

  • Applying inhibitors will prevent salt crystallisation in stone pores – salts form instead on the surface causing much less damage
  • The project will evaluate these inhibitors in different ways – from atomic scale studies to larger-scale tests and site trials
  • The work will also include a thorough investigation of how salt formations develop and behave
  • The end result should lead to the creation of a tested, reliable procedure for the use of crystallisation inhibitors for conservation

Contribution to policy development:

  • The results will contribute to existing policies that promote the sustainable management of built cultural heritage
  • By creating an entirely new conservation technique, the project will affect policy decisions relating to salt damage prevention
  • The results could create possibilities for further research in areas of industry outside those of built cultural heritage

Project deliverables

  • Create a database with information on crystallisation inhibitors – by Month 6  
  • Assessment of salt damage problems at test sites – Month 12
  • Carry out atomic-scale evaluation of crystallisation inhibitor interaction – Month 21
  • On-site assessment of how environmental factors affect salt crystallisation – Month 35
  • On-site evaluation of the practical use of inhibitors – Month 35
  • Produce a feasibility study on the use of crystallisation inhibitors – Month 36


  • Generally through refereed journals, books and conference proceedings – ongoing
  • Project website – ongoing
  • General leaflet on the use of inhibitors – Month 36
  • Workshops in the cities where testing was carried out (Month 36), followed by an international conference after completion of the project

Technical information

Project acronym: SALTCONTROL
Project’s official full title: Prevention of salt damage to the built cultural heritage by the use of crystallisation inhibitors
Research priority: The protection of cultural heritage and associated conservation strategies
Specific webpage: Not available
Proposal/contract no: 501571
Start date: Not available
Kick off meeting: Not available
Completion date: Not available
European Commission scientific officer: Johanna Leissner (

Name: Ghent University
Abbreviated name: GU
Address: Department of Geology and Soil Science
Ghent University
Krijgslaan 281 S8
B-9000 Ghent
Country: Belgium
Tel: +32 9 264 4651
Fax: +32 9 264 4943


Name: TNO Building and Construction Research
Abbreviated name: TNO
Country: The Netherlands

Name: Netherlands Department for Conservation
Abbreviated name: RDMZ
Country: The Netherlands

Name: Remmers Bouwchemie bv
Abbreviated name: RB
Country: The Netherlands

Name: Monument Watch
Abbreviated name: MW
Country: The Netherlands

Name: University of Granada
Abbreviated name: UG
Country: Spain

Name: Instituto Andaluz del Patrimonio Historico
Abbreviated name: IA
Country: Spain

Name: Foundation of Research and Technology Hellas
Abbreviated name: FORTH
Country: Greece

Name: University of Münster
Abbreviated name: WWU
Country: Germany

Name: Technical University Eindhoven
Abbreviated name: TUE
Country: The Netherlands

Name: Czech Technical University Prague
Abbreviated name: CTU
Country: Czech Republic

Name: National Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage in Prague
Abbreviated name: NPU
Country: Czech Republic

Name: University College London
Abbreviated name: UCL
Country: United Kingdom