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Inhibiting mild steel corrosion from sulfate-reducing bacteria using antimicrobial-producing biofilms in Three-Mile-Island process water


Biofilms were used to produce gramicidin S (a cyclic decapeptide) to inhibit corrosion-causing, sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB). In laboratory studies these biofilms protected mild steel 1010 continuously from corrosion in the aggressive, cooling service water of the AmerGen Three-Mile-Island (TMI) nuclear plant, which was augmented with reference SRB. The growth of both reference SRB (Gram-positive Desulfosporosinus orientis and Gram-negative Desulfovibrio vulgaris) was shown to be inhibited by supernatants of the gramicidin-S-producing bacteria as well as by purified gramicidin S. Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy and mass loss measurements showed that the protective biofilms decreased the corrosion rate of mild steel by 2- to 10-fold when challenged with the natural SRB of the TMI process water supplemented with D. orientis or D. vulgaris. The relative corrosion inhibition efficiency was 50–90% in continuous reactors, compared to a biofilm control which did not produce the antimicrobial gramicidin S. Scanning electron microscope and reactor images also revealed that SRB attack was thwarted by protective biofilms that secrete gramicidin S. A consortium of beneficial bacteria (GGPST consortium, producing gramicidin S and other antimicrobials) also protected the mild steel.

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This project was supported by the Electric Power Research Institute (Contract EP-P5388-C2665).

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Correspondence to T. K. Wood.

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Zuo, R., Örnek, D., Syrett, B.C. et al. Inhibiting mild steel corrosion from sulfate-reducing bacteria using antimicrobial-producing biofilms in Three-Mile-Island process water. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 64, 275–283 (2004).

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  • Corrosion Rate
  • Mild Steel
  • Gramicidin
  • Microbiologically Influence Corrosion
  • Mild Steel Corrosion