A few months back, Melody Voith posted about our sneak peek at the Smithsonian's new squid display. I've since interviewed two experts at 3M about Novec 7100, the environmentally friendly, nonflammable fluid that's used to store the squid and various other ocean critters. I've included some info here that didn't make it into my original story on this topic.
Besides being used to store animal tissues, Novec products have been used to protect artifacts in the Alamo and the Library of Congress. The book conservation aspect particularly intrigues me. As anyone who's written a thesis recently will tell you, most universities require acid-free paper for the final, bound book. That's because older papers eventually yellow and become brittle with age due to the acids that naturally occur in wood pulp.
One way to fix those dusty tomes might be by immersing them in a slurry of Novec fluid and a base such as magnesium oxide. Novec's suited to the task because it won't smear the inks, and it doesn't crinkle up pages after the fluid evaporates.
Thanks to 3M, which provided me with a 100mL bottle of Novec 7100, I've tried to reproduce that effect in the video below. I cut filming before the isopropyl alcohol had a chance to fully evaporate, but the paper feels different after the alcohol evaporates. Not so with Novec--the paper was completely unchanged.