Corrosion of mild steel in an alternating oxic and anoxic biofilm system


The effect of alternating oxic and anoxic conditions (12 h oxic‐12 h anoxie) on sulfate reducing activity, iron‐sulfur chemistry and the corrosion of mild steel, has been studied in biofilm reactors. During the experiment (35 d) an increasing activity of sulfate reducing bacteria was observed. A part of the produced sulfide and iron sulfide (FeS) was oxidized during oxic periods and resulted in a mixture of acid volatile sulfides (mainly mackinawite, FeS), chromium reducible sulfur (mainly pyrite, FeS2) and elemental sulfur (S°). At the end of the experiment an amount of total S corresponding to 157 umol cm−3 was found within the deposit. Corrosion rates were measured electrochemically during the experiment and were found in the range of 3–5 mpy after 7 d to 120–160 mpy after 34 d. An extended aeration of the biofilm system for 1 month without addition of any organics showed that the pools of Fe‐S compounds in the deposit and the corrosion rate remained high. Microsensor studies of dissolved oxygen penetration through the biofilm and the deposit showed that even after 1 month of aeration oxygen did not penetrate to the metal surface. The limited oxygen penetration was caused by a very high oxygen consumption rate due to oxygénation of reduced chemical species originating from the dissolution of metal by the corrosion process (approximately 66 mmol Fem−2 h−1). Measurements of in situ sulfate reducing activity revealed high sulfate reduction rates within the anoxic part of the deposit and suggested that SRB activity was important as electron carrier from the metal surface to the oxic interface.




Nielsen, P.H., W. Lee, Z. Lewandowski, M. Morrison, and W.G. Characklis, "Corrosion of mild steel in an alternating oxic and anoxic biofilm system," Biofouling, 7:267-284 (1993).
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