By BRUCE SMITH
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - Clemson scientists are using a new technique that trims years off the time-consuming process of preserving historic artifacts like cannon balls and a ballast block from the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley.
The scientists at the university's Restoration Institute in North Charleston are using what is called subcritical technology to treat items in days that would have taken months or years to conserve.
In the method, water under extreme heat and pressure can remove salts in metal items quickly and completely.
Scientists conserved a ballast block from the Hunley in 10 days. Using traditional conservation methods, it took 18 months to preserve the other blocks. In recent months, scientists have also treated shells from Fort Sumter.
The Hunley was the first submarine in history to sink an enemy warship.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.