TINGLEV, Denmark - High-tech refrigeration containers from Maersk Container Industry have found a new and unconventional use: on the spot conservation of fragile archeological artifacts.
MCI's Star Cool reefers are deployed in Luebeck, 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 1180. Among the 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.
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"Star Cool was chosen because of its extremely precise temperature and atmospheric control. Such precision is a must if you want to preserve sensitive cultural assets like wet organic structures," says conservator Maruchi Yoshida who is associated with the Fraunhofer-Institute for Building Physics and Leibniz-Gemeinschaft to manage the reefer container project, ARCHe.
Normally, Maersk reefers with the so-called CA and AV+ technologies are used to transport sensitive cargos like bananas, vegetables, fish and meat around the globe. 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", says Maruchi 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."
Facts: With headquarters in Denmark, Maersk Container Industry (MCI) is a separate business unit in the A.P. Moller - Maersk Group, manufacturing dry and reefer containers for the global market. In 2012, MCI's revenue was USD 1.1bn (2011: USD 1.2bn); profit was USD 60m (2011: USD 69m). In 2012, MCI's return on invested capital (ROIC), excluding one-offs, was highest in the Maersk Group at 27.7% (2011: 33.1%). With a new factory in Chile, MCI will soon have more than 8000 employees in China, Chile and Denmark.
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