The influence of environmental factors on the rate and extent of stainless steel ennoblement mediated by manganese-oxidizing biofilms

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The increase in the open circuit potential of passive metals in natural waters doe to biofilm formation at the metal surface, termed ennoblement, has been reported for nearly 30 years. Although its occurrence is undoubtedly associated with microbial colonization, the underlying mechanism of ennoblement remains controversial. Recent work produced in the author's laboratory has provided convincing experimental evidence that ennoblement can be caused by deposition of biomineralized manganese produced by manganese-oxidizing biofilms. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of environmental factors on the rate and extent of ennoblement of 316L stainless steel exposed to natural waters. This was accomplished by exposing corrosion coupons to four freshwater systems over a four-year period. The rate and extent of ennoblement observed in these locations was correlated with dissolved manganese concentrations, the mass of accumulated manganese oxides, organic carbon concentration, dissolved oxygen concentration, flow conditions, temperature, and pH in these environments.




Braughton, K.R., R.L. Lafond, and Z.L. Lewandowski, “The Influence of Environmental Factors on the Rate and Extent of Stainless Steel Ennoblement Mediated by Manganese-Oxidizing Biofilms, " Biofouling, 17:2 (2001).
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