A Bournemouth University researcher is using technological and engineering research to help the Tank Museum in Bovington, Dorset, to find sustainable ways to preserve the 300 tanks and other military vehicles in its collection.
Zulfiqar Khan, professor of design engineering and computing at BU, is helping the museum to develop new conservation facilities, install live corrosion condition monitoring and humidity and temperature sensors, and implement a controlled environment. He’s also looking at ways to reverse the effects of structural degradation in the military vehicles – a key priority as they have significant historical biographies.
The different materials, types of systems and mechanical failures that have occurred in the tanks have been compared to explore the best control measures to put in place to reverse the failed mechanisms.
BU’s research at the museum has played an important role in enabling it to secure £2.5million of funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to invest in the Vehicle Conservation Centre, which provides a controlled environment and helps to slow down deterioration in the vehicles.
‘I started work with the Tank Museum in 2009 because I wanted to develop a sustainable method of conserving large military vehicles in the museum,’ said Khan. ‘The research goes beyond just preserving tanks because it can be used in much wider industries to help create sustainable solutions. It has played an important role in helping people to better understand and explore British heritage.’
‘Before Bournemouth University started working with us, we had no research to help us protect these historical works of engineering,’ said Richard Smith, director of the Tank Museum. ‘Without data it was impossible to make evidence-based decisions about the best way to preserve the tanks. But now with more than ten years’ worth of research from the BU team, we are looking forward to the future and making better informed decisions on how to look after the tanks for future generations to come and see.’
The research has also led to a collaboration with the Beaulieu National Motor Museum to develop a framework for sustainable conservation of other historic vehicles.