cleanLASER cleans the Jefferson Memorial

cleanLASER technology has been used to safely remove a dark and unsightly biofilm from the white marble dome of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington D.C. as part of a $8.2 million restoration project.

A trio of micro-organisms, consisting of bacteria, algae and fungi creates a biofilm that has been growing and discoloring the Jefferson Memorial marble since 2006. In 2017, the National Park Service tested laser ablation on a 1,000 square foot test strip as a new technique to remove the biofilm.

Testing proved laser cleaning to be effective at removing the dark biofilm and safe for the historic marble.  Following the successful testing, the entire dome was laser cleaned.

“This is a high-tech tool from cleanLASER. It uses only focused light to remove dirt, coatings, and organic contaminants from historic and industrial surfaces without contact. No cleaning media, abrasives or chemicals are required,” according to Tim Niemeier, Vice President of Adapt Laser Systems, the US Partner of Clean-Lasersysteme GmbH, Germany. The process gently cleans the marble at the rate of two square feet an hour. Niemeier explained that laser cleaning does a great job restoring the stone without creating the waste stream and pollution of traditional chemical or abrasive cleaning methods. “This way, the laser process helps protect national landmarks and the environment.”

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The laser cleaning work was done by Adapt Laser System’s customer Evergreene Architectural Arts team of specially trained conservators.  Evergreene used lasers supplied by Adapt for the marble cleaning, Evergreene owned cleanLASER, CL100FFC units and cleanLASER CL100FFC lightCASE rental unit from Adapt.

The small size and weight of the laser equipment was very helpful to access the work areas since all the equipment had to be hand-carried up scaffolding to the roof of the memorial.

Find out more about restoration and conservation with cleanLASER.