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Recovery of a Charred Painting Using Atomic Oxygen TreatmentA noncontact method is described which uses atomic oxygen to remove soot and char from the surface of a painting. The atomic oxygen was generated by the dissociation of oxygen in low pressure air using radio frequency energy. The treatment, which is an oxidation process, allows control of the amount of material to be removed. The effectiveness of char removal from half of a fire-damaged oil painting was studied using reflected light measurements from selected areas of the painting and by visual and photographic observation. The atomic oxygen was able to effectively remove char and soot from the treated half of the painting. The remaining loosely bound pigment was lightly sprayed with a mist to replace the binder and then varnish was reapplied. Caution should he used when treating an untested paint medium using atomic oxygen. A representative edge or corner should he tested first in order to determine if the process would be safe for the pigments present. As more testing occurs, a greater knowledge base will be developed as to what types of paints and varnishes can or cannot be treated using this technique. With the proper precautions, atomic oxygen treatment does appear to be a technique with great potential for allowing very charred, previously unrestorable art to be salvaged.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Rutledge, Sharon K.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH United States)
Banks, Bruce A.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH United States)
Chichernea, Virgil A.
(Cleveland State Univ. Cleveland, OH United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
August 1, 1999
Subject Category
Nonmetallic Materials
Report/Patent Number
NAS 1.15:209435
Meeting Information
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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NameType 19990081124.pdf STI