Preservation of Italy's Cultural Heritage by using FLIR Thermal Imaging Cameras

Table of Contents

Introduction
Many problems, one solution
Software
About FLIR

Introduction

In Italy’s cultural heritage, historical buildings represent an important aspect and hence proper maintenance is needed to preserve such prominent architecture. IR HotSpot, an Italy-based survey company, is using a FLIR thermal imaging camera to study historical buildings and look for water damage and other similar defects in buildings. So far, the information obtained from thermographic surveys has ensured the preservation of these buildings.

According to Rosario Piergianni, who works as a thermography expert at IR HotSpot, thermal imaging cameras are excellent tools for detecting defects in historical architecture and can be used without posing any risk to the buildings. Hence, this non-invasive technique proves to be completely safe.

Electromagnetic radiation is recorded by thermal imaging cameras in the infrared spectrum, and all matter emits infrared spectrum as a function of its temperature. The recorded intensity of infrared radiation is used by onboard electronics to produce a thermal image and subsequently to measure temperatures. Each pixel in the thermal image is a non contact temperature measurement. In order to detect water damage, sub-surface cracks and other building defects, a thermal imaging camera can be utilized. in fact, the camera can record radiation without actually emitting it, thus promoting a risk-free assessment of buildings without damaging them. Piergianni informed that Frescoes and sculptures are rather fragile and regular inspection methods can deteriorate them. Therefore, a high-sensitive camera is required to identify even the slightest variations in temperature. The FLIR thermal imaging camera is one such instrument which is capable of meeting this requirement. Piergianni added that IR HotSpot checked a number of models from other thermal imaging camera suppliers, but found the FLIR camera offered a better image quality.

On his part, Piergianni selected the advanced FLIR SC660 thermal imaging camera with uncooled microbolometer detector. The detector delivers sharp thermal images with 640 x 480 pixels resolution and has a 30 mK (0.03 °C) thermal sensitivity. The camera is capable of detecting, visualizing and calculating the smallest of thermal changes and comes with extra advanced features. Moreover, during the inspection process, voice comments can be recorded which helps in reducing the time spent on writing notes. All recorded thermal images have GPS coordinates which are automatically integrated in the metadata. This aspect makes it quite easy to sort out the images. Features like Picture-in-Picture and Thermal Fusion help in determining the location of defects during post processing of data and also aid in making the reports more convincing, added Piergianni.

Many problems, one solution

With the help of FLIR SC660 thermal imaging camera, IR HotSpot experts can detect different building issues. Piergianni further explained that moisture occurs as a result of capillary rise or condensation and this can damage the fresco or plaster. The FLIR camera is designed to detect a number of issues such as moisture, the presence of infill and mold beneath the surface, the state of adhesion between the underlying structure and plaster, hidden cracks and structures, previous renovations, and damage caused by earthquakes.

Piergianni informed that thermography experts generally check for convective airflows around works of art, and if left unchecked can make the art to deteriorate. The experts then propose changes in the heating and ventilation systems to prevent this issue. They also investigate the process of breakdown of building materials such as dune limestone or calcarenite that is commonly employed in historical architecture. The experts also check the building’s exterior for any accumulation of pollution-induced anthropogenic surface deposits.

Piergianni and his colleague Vito Basile have undergone training courses at the Infrared Training Center (ITC) which allow them to conduct all these complicated inspections. Piergianni informed that individuals must have adequate knowledge about thermal physics and the capabilities and limitations of thermal imaging technology, otherwise it will result in false conclusions. FLIR Systems in collaboration with ITC offers training; certificates are given to the trainees in the levels 1, 2 and 3. Piergianni and Basile are now ITC level 2 certified experts.

Software

Piergianni further continued that the diagnostic method helps them to direct the renovation procedures in a better manner and also aids them to enhance the efficiency of renovation projects from beginning to end. The advanced features in the FLIR SC660 thermal imaging camera allow them to scan large number of areas so that they can determine what needs to be restored. The FLIR software also enables them to investigate their discoveries and report them to their clients. Piergianni added that the team uses FLIR BuildIR to examine and compare thermal images, FLIR ResearchIR to investigate thermal video footage, and FLIR Reporter to generate reports. The FLIR software is user-friendly and considerably helps in precise interpretation of thermal images. In addition to products and software, FLIR provides excellent sales service support, concluded Piergianni.

About FLIR

FLIR was founded in 1978, originally providing infrared imaging systems that were installed on vehicles for use in conducting energy audits. Later, we expanded our focus to other applications and markets for our technology, in particular, designing and selling stabilized thermal imaging systems for aircraft used by law enforcement. We have since grown substantially due to increasing demand for infrared products across a growing number of markets combined with the execution of a series of acquisitions. Today we are one of the world leaders in the design, manufacture and marketing of thermal imaging and stabilized camera systems for a wide variety of applications in the commercial, industrial and government markets, internationally as well as domestically.

Our Thermography business primarily consists of the design and manufacture of hand-held thermal imaging systems that can detect and measure minute temperature differences, which are useful for a wide variety of industrial and commercial applications. Uses for our Thermography products include high-end predictive and preventative maintenance, research and development, test and measurement, leak detection and scientific analysis. A growing distribution network has enabled us to penetrate existing and emerging markets and applications worldwide.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by FLIR.

For more information on this source, please visit FLIR.

Ask A Question

Do you have a question you'd like to ask regarding this article?

Leave your feedback
Submit