What is Microbial Induced Corrosion?

Posted By on March 27, 2018

Corrosion is defined as damage, deterioration or destruction of metal, stone and other materials.

With this in mind, microbial induced corrosion defines as the use of microorganisms to damage, deteriorate or destroy metals and non-metals.

Microbial induced corrosion is sometimes referred to as microbiologically influenced corrosion, bio-corrosion or bacterial corrosion.

Microbial Induced Corrosion in Process
In order for microorganisms to break down metals, a secondary substance is used as a reactive “co-agent,” for example, ocean water that breaks down metals on sunken ships.

To understand the level of corrosion from ocean water, it is important to know ocean water’s destructive components. These include:
. Bacteria
. Protozoa fungi
. Viruses
. Microalgae
. Archaea

Microorganisms and Non Metals
Microorganisms account for microbial induced corrosion in non metals. In industrial facilities in the U.S., pollution is contained by microbial induced corrosion of end process materials.

Some of these materials may be organic or inorganic chemicals. Ester, propyl, alcohol, carboxylic acid, benzene and ethyl chemical compound are organic chemicals, usually as additives easily captured by a microbial induced corrosion process known as biofiltration.

Some organic chemicals are often referred to as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). These are chemicals that release high vapors in ambient air streams. However, not all microoganisms found in organic chemical compounds are unsafe for humans. Thus, microorganism in the human body can influence human health.

Inorganic chemicals include salt, phosphate, barium, oxides, ammonium and numerous others used in industrial processes. These are captured by a microbial induced corrosion process known as biotrickling filtration or bio scubbing.

In this process, precipitative industrial scrubbers, remove most of the volatility of process chemicals before microbial induced corrosion begins in the biological filtering system.

Visible Signs of Microbial Induced Corrosion
Microorganisms are seen most often on exteriors of old stone or cement buildings where greenish or black films appear. This is the beginning phase of microbial induced corrosion that, over time, reduces the integrity of components of stone or cement.

The Biological Microbial Induced Corrosion Process
Biological microbial induced corrosion begins with a specified set of microorganisms introduced into the corrosion process. These microorganisms may be introduced through an injection into “packing,” from an input stream of process chemicals. The injected packing “bed” begins the biological microbial induced corrosion process.

Microbe-injected packing retains approximately 99 percent of captured residue. The remaining chemicals are released through an output where it is ready for use.

The type of packing may consist of styrofoam pellets, carbon, refined waste compost or coconut bark. The specific type of packing depends on the air, water or chemicals that will undergo microbial induced corrosion.

The Future of Microbial Induced Corrosion
Three new microbes, named Lysinbacillus telephonicus and Microbacterium telephonicum, have been discovered by Pune Scientists in India in May 2017. These were found on cell phones. Hence, the reference “telephonicus” in their names. These are not harmful to humans and are found on the human body.

Meanwhile in May 2017, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced an “alarming finding that 12 families of microbes were winning the war against antibiotics and humanity urgently needed to discover new chemicals to kill these super bugs.”