Microbially influenced corrosion of galvanized steel pipes in aerobic water systems

Natalie Bolton, M Critchley, R Fabien, Nancy Cromar, Howard Fallowfield

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    50 Citations (Scopus)


    Aims: To investigate the role of heterotrophic bacteria in the corrosion of galvanized steel in the presence of water. Methods and Results: Samples were taken from corroding galvanized steel pipes conveying water for specialist applications, and heterotrophic bacteria were isolated and cultured. The majority of bacteria were Gram-negative aerobes and included Pseudomonas sp., Bacillus pumilus, Afipia spp. and Blastobacter denitrificans/Bradyrhizobium japonicum. Zinc tolerance was assessed through growth and zinc disc diffusion experiments. In general, zinc negatively influenced growth rates. An unidentified yeast also isolated from the system demonstrated a high tolerance to zinc at concentrations up to 4 g l-1. Coupon experiments were performed to assess corrosion by the bacteria on galvanized steel and steel coupons. The majority of isolates as pure culture biofilms (69%) accelerated corrosion of galvanized coupons, assessed as zinc release, relative to sterile control coupons (P < 0·05). Pure culture biofilms did not increase the corrosion of steel, with four isolates demonstrating protective effects. Conclusions: Pure culture biofilms of heterotrophic bacteria isolated from a corroding galvanized pipe system were found to accelerate the corrosion of galvanized steel coupons. Significance and Impact of the Study: Microbially influenced corrosion is a potential contributor to sporadically occurring failures in galvanized steel systems containing water. Management strategies should consider microbial control as a means for corrosion prevention in these systems.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)239-247
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of Applied Microbiology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010


    • Galvanized steel pipe
    • Microbially influenced corrosion
    • Zinc


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