Maersk reefer containers conserving old artifacts

Maersk reefer containers conserving old artifacts

High-tech refrigeration containers from Maersk Container Industry (MCI) have found a new and unconventional use: on-the-spot conservation of fragile archeological artifacts.

MCI’s Star Cool reefers are deployed in Lübeck, Germany, where a unique and ancient wooden structure came to light during new housing construction. A rescue excavation on the UNESCO world heritage site revealed a wooden storage cellar from the year 1180. Among crops once stored in the cellar were apparently hops and cereals that could provide insight into medieval German beer production.

Yet conservation of the cellar is difficult. Artifacts of this kind will decay and disintegrate if they during relocation are exposed to radically different temperature and humidity.

“Star Cool was chosen because of its extremely precise temperature and atmospheric control,” said conservator Maruchi Yoshida. “Such precision is a must if you want to preserve sensitive cultural assets like wet organic structures.”

Yoshida is associated with the Fraunhofer-Institute for Building Physics and Leibniz-Gemeinschaft to manage the reefer container project ARCHe.

Normally, Maersk reefers with CA and AV+ technologies are used to transport sensitive cargos like bananas, vegetables, fish, and meat around the world. Now the ARCHe pilot test may yield new business perspectives.

“We are looking at a business plan for a company that on short notice can provide conservation services and reefers upon sudden discovery of new archeological sites,” said Yoshida. “Such a company would benefit both urban developers and cultural heritage care offices—but above all, the society to whom the cultural heritage belongs.”

Headquartered in Denmark, MCI is a separate business unit in the A P Moller–Maersk Group, manufacturing reefer containers for the global market. With a new factory in Chile, MCI will soon have more than 8,000 employees in China, Chile, and Denmark.

To see a video of the MCI project, access

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