Accelerated low water corrosion of carbon steel in the presence of a biofilm harbouring sulphate-reducing and sulphur-oxidising bacteria recovered from a marine sediment.

I. Beech, S. Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Investigations were undertaken to elucidate causes of accelerated low water corrosion (ALWC) of steel piling in a harbour in Southern England. Visual inspection revealed features characteristic of ALWC such as the presence of poorly adherent, thick corrosion products of varying morphology, often seen as large blisters randomly located on sections of the structure at the low water mark. Upon the removal of blisters, a bright surface covered with shallow pits was exposed. Representative samples of the corrosion products were collected from the structure and water and sediment specimens were retrieved from selected areas in the harbour for microbiological, chemical and microscopy testing. In the laboratory, field samples were enriched to detect and enumerate communities of sulphur-oxidising bacteria (SOB) and sulphate-reducing bacteria (SRB). Biofilms, comprising SRB and SOB populations isolated from a sediment sample were grown under static conditions on surfaces of electrodes manufactured from steel piling material. Linear polarisation resistance (LPR) measurements revealed that the corrosion rate of steel with biofilms (0.518 mm y−1) was higher than that recorded in sterile seawater alone (0.054 mm y−1) and in sterile seawater to which nutrient was added (0.218 mm y−1). Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) imaging demonstrated enhanced pitting under biofilms. The results of our investigation revealed for the first time that the attack on steel piling in the presence of sediment SRB and SOB populations was characteristic of ALWC.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-21
Number of pages8
JournalElectrochimica Acta
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2008

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