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Lecture 26: MIC Bacterial Transport, Attachment and Affected Materials

NPTEL Web Course

Lecture 26
MIC-Bacterial Transport, Attachment and Affected
Materials
Keywords: Bacterial Adhesion, Biofilms, Structural Materials.

Bacterial transport to metal surface involve:

Fluid dynamic forces (currents in water bodies and eddy diffusion in


turbulent flow systems).
Flocculation or sedimentation.
Chemotactic response due to energy gradients.
Brownian motion (colloids).

Surface properties such as charge, free energy and roughness influence bacterial
adhesion. There can be reversible and irreversible adhesion. Many forces such as
electrostatic, chemical and hydrophobic forces may be involved in bacterial adhesion
mechanisms. The following stages can be visualised to understand a fully developed
biofilm on a metal surface.

Transport of organics from bulk.


Attachment and colonisation by bacteria.
Incorporation of higher organisms (fungi, algae, protozoa).
Build up of biofilms in thickness.

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Course Title: Advances in Corrosion Engineering
Course Co-ordinator: Prof. K. A. Natarajan, IISc Bangalore

Lecture 26: MIC Bacterial Transport, Attachment and Affected Materials

NPTEL Web Course

Besides its contribution towards MIC, biofilms can pose several other engineering
problems such as:
Reduction in heat transfer leading to energy loss (condenser tubes).
Reduction in mass and fluid transfer (water, oil, gas pipelines).
Structural failures (buildings, bridges, platforms and construction
materials)
Increased fuel and operating costs (ships and engines).

Several mechanisms and models have been proposed to understand biofilm


formation.

Aerobe-Anaerobe mutualism: Growth of aerobic bacteria such as Acidithiobacillus


and iron oxidizers utilizing oxygen and nutrients at the metal-solution interface
creating an anaerobic environment in the vicinity.

Sulfate and other oxidised

metabolic products formed in the biofilm due to activity of such aerobes serve as
nutrients and energy source for anaerobic bacteria such as SRB which subsequently
proliferate in the anaerobic environment. Bacterial mutualism leads to the formation
and growth of a heterogeneous biofilm (often patchy and incoherent). Oxygen
concentration cells would be formed under such conditions as illustrated below in
Fig 26.1.

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Course Title: Advances in Corrosion Engineering
Course Co-ordinator: Prof. K. A. Natarajan, IISc Bangalore

Lecture 26: MIC Bacterial Transport, Attachment and Affected Materials

NPTEL Web Course

Fig. 26.1 Model for bacterial film formation on metals involving aerobic and anaerobic bacteria

Schematic representation of biofilm formation and consequent development of


differential aeration cells are shown in Fig. 26.2.

Fig. 26.2 Formation of differential aeration cells on metal surfaces due to biofilm growth.

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Course Title: Advances in Corrosion Engineering
Course Co-ordinator: Prof. K. A. Natarajan, IISc Bangalore

Lecture 26: MIC Bacterial Transport, Attachment and Affected Materials

NPTEL Web Course

Tubercles (massive bio chemical deposits) can result with time. Extensive pitting
and cracks become visible under the biofilm.

Anodic and cathodic reactions

pertaining to MIC of steels in marine or soil environments are illustrated in Fig. 26.3
and Fig. 26.4.

Fig. 26.3 Model for biocorrosion of ferrous alloys due to biofilm formation.

Fig. 26.4 Anodic and cathodic reactions in differential aeration cells formed on metal surfaces.

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Course Title: Advances in Corrosion Engineering
Course Co-ordinator: Prof. K. A. Natarajan, IISc Bangalore

Lecture 26: MIC Bacterial Transport, Attachment and Affected Materials

NPTEL Web Course

MIC of important structural materials

There are no known metals or alloys which can completely resist biofilm formation
and subsequent microbially-influenced corrosion. Behavior of various commonly
used metals and alloys in relation to microbially-influenced corrosion is outlined
below:

Copper and copper alloys. Commonly used in heat exchangers, pumps, valves and
condensers.

90-10 and 70-30 copper-nickel, brasses, aluminium bronzes and

admiralty brasses are used in marine environments. SRBs present in marine


environments contribute to localised corrosion of the above alloys.

They are

susceptible to microbially-influenced corrosion of different kinds. Extra-cellular


polymers secreted by microorganisms can induce corrosion of copper-base alloys
through differential aeration, selective dissolution and cathodic depolarization.
Pitting, plug / dealloying and ammonia cracking of brasses and bronzes can occur.
Sulphate-reducing bacteria generate tubercles through formation of sulphide-rich
scales on copper alloys.

In spite of copper toxicity, copper and copper alloys are not free from biological
corrosion. Acidithiobacillus group of bacteria develop higher tolerance to copper
ions and dissolve the metal. Slime forming bacteria together with iron were isolated
from the corrosion products of copper-nickel alloy and monel tubes used in a nuclear
power plant. Sulphate reducing bacteria can corrode underground copper tubes and
pipes. Biologically generated ammonia is responsible for stress corrosion cracking
of several copper alloys. Corrosion of brass in heat exchanger tubes by ammonia
produced by bacteria is reported.

Steels. Tubercle formation with pitting underneath is encountered in steel pipes and
tubes, resulting in hampered flow and plugging problems. Carbon steels are used for
water, oil and gas transport under sub-soil and marine environments.

Aerobic
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Course Title: Advances in Corrosion Engineering


Course Co-ordinator: Prof. K. A. Natarajan, IISc Bangalore

Lecture 26: MIC Bacterial Transport, Attachment and Affected Materials

NPTEL Web Course

bacteria such as Gallionella, Leptothrix and Acidithiobacillus contribute to MIC


resulting from differential aeration cells. These organisms oxidize ferrous to ferric
resulting in the deposition of ferric oxyhydroxides. Anaerobic bacteria such as
Sulfate Reducing Bacteria inhabit the tubercles.

Aerobic bacteria can bring about MIC through formation of slimes, oxidation of iron
and sulphides and generation of acidic metabolites. Hydrated slimes coat the metal
surfaces, creating differential aeration cells. Iron oxidising bacteria listed in Table
26.1, oxidise ferrous ions to less soluble ferric ions, leading to the formation of
insoluble tubercles, which consist of hydrated ferric oxides and biological slimes.
Steel water pipes are prone to such attack. Massive tubercle formation inside steel
pipes, hinders fluid flow, and creates severe corrosion problems, such as extensive
pitting, fissures and crevices.
Table 26.1 Role of slime forming bacteria in metallic corrosion

Organism

Action

Gallionella Sp

Aerobic,
Iron & Steels, Tubercle
formation

Sphaerotilus Sp

Aerobic,
Iron & Steels, Ferrous oxidation
and tubercle.

Pseudomonas Sp

Aerobic,
Iron & Steels, (Some iron
reducing)

P.aeroginosa

Aerobic,
Aluminium alloys (pitting)

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Course Title: Advances in Corrosion Engineering
Course Co-ordinator: Prof. K. A. Natarajan, IISc Bangalore

Lecture 26: MIC Bacterial Transport, Attachment and Affected Materials

NPTEL Web Course

Stainless steels. Stainless steels are used in nuclear power plants in sea water
environments. Iron oxidising and depositing bacteria induce MIC of stainless steels
characterized by pitting, usually adjacent to weldments. SRB can attack stainless
steels, super stainless steels such as duplex steels and molybdenum steels. Slimes
formed by bacteria can create sites for initiation of pits in stainless steels in sea water
or fresh water. Destruction of passive films in stainless steels is observed through
reducing environments created by SRBs.
Nickel-based alloys. Monels and inconels are susceptible to MIC. Nickel-based
alloys used in nuclear power plants corrode due to microbial attack under marine
environments.

Aluminium and its alloys. Protective oxide (passive) films present on aluminium
and its alloys could be disrupted and destroyed through biological attack.
Aluminium and 2024, 7075 alloys used in aircraft and fuel storage tanks are
susceptible to MIC in the presence of hydrocarbons (fuels). The generation of watersoluble organic/inorganic acids by bacteria and fungi lead to corrosion of aluminium
and alloys (pitting and intergranular corrosion).

Aluminium-magnesium (5000

series) alloys used in marine applications are susceptible to pitting, intergranular


corrosion, exfoliation and stress corrosion through microbial interaction.

Aircraft fuel tanks and sea water components of aluminium and its alloys are
corroded by organisms such as Pseudomonas, Leptothrix, Sulphate Reducing
Bacteria and fungi. The fungus, Cladosporium resinae can proliferate on kerosene
or paraffins as sole carbon sources, developing pinkish brown colonies. Fuel tanks
of especially ground aircrafts are affected by fungal growth.

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Course Title: Advances in Corrosion Engineering
Course Co-ordinator: Prof. K. A. Natarajan, IISc Bangalore

Lecture 26: MIC Bacterial Transport, Attachment and Affected Materials

NPTEL Web Course

The following microorganisms had been observed in an aircraft tank sludge.


Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
Aerobacter aerogenes.
Clostridium,
Bacillus,
Desulfovibrio,
Fusarium,
Aspergillus,
Cladosporium and
Penicillium.
Titanium. Titanium is susceptible to biofouling. SRBs and acid-producing bacteria
may generate differential aeration cells leading to destruction of passive films.
Titanium and its alloys used in marine environments are susceptible to biofilm
formation involving manganese and iron oxidising bacteria as well as sulfate
reducing halophiles. Surface passive films on titanium could be disrupted in the
presence of anaerobes, leading to ennoblement and pitting.

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Course Title: Advances in Corrosion Engineering
Course Co-ordinator: Prof. K. A. Natarajan, IISc Bangalore