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Capitol engineers using lasers in cleaning trials

Under the majestic columns of the capitol's South portico is a wealth of history.

But also under those columns, a lot of grime and mess on the limestone rock.

That's where new technology comes into play--- specifically circular lasers.

"Because it is a circular scan pattern, we have a constantly moving level of energy, there are no hotspots and we get an even level of cleaning throughout," said Bartosz Dajnowski, a worker with firm Conservation of Sculpture and Objects Studio, Inc.

Now, you might be asking yourself, so... we're gonna blast a laser onto our 100-year-old Capitol? Sounds fine. Well...

"It's so gentle that in order to create and confine our test area, we simply put blue painter's tape and during the example that had, as he moved that laser light on that tape, the laser wasn't reacting to the tape, wasn't doing any cleaning," said Vance Kelley, principle at Treanor Architects.

And sure, lasers are cool, but so is this find --- giant steel blast doors, hidden for decades. They were put in to protect the Capitol against attack during World War I, though they've never been used.

It's finds like these that engineers expect to happen a lot during the giant restoration.

They say they plan to do it right, unlike previous restorations, that have actually caused the building to wear down faster.

"What it's doing now is not only reacting through age, but allowing it to collect particles, making the building seem much more dirty, much more deteriorated than it is," Kelley said.

Engineers are still doing tests, and did try liquid cleaners, but none worked as well as the laser cleaning.

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