Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 102, Issue 13, pp 5741–5751 | Cite as

Use of carbon steel ball bearings to determine the effect of biocides and corrosion inhibitors on microbiologically influenced corrosion under flow conditions

  • Tijan Pinnock
  • Johanna Voordouw
  • Gerrit Voordouw
Environmental biotechnology


A consortium of sulfate-reducing bacteria consisting mostly of Desulfovibrio, Desulfomicrobium, and Desulfocurvus from oil field produced water was cultivated in a chemostat, receiving medium with 20 mM formate and 10 mM sulfate as the energy and 1 mM acetate as the carbon source. The chemostat effluent, containing 5 mM sulfide and 0.5 mM of residual acetate, was passed through 1-ml syringe columns with 60 carbon steel ball bearings (BBs) of 53.6 ± 0.1 mg each at a flow rate of 0.8 ml/h per column. These were treated every 5 days with 1.6 ml of 300 ppm of glutaraldehyde (Glut), tetrakis(hydroxymethyl)phosphonium sulfate (THPS), benzalkonium chloride (BAC), or Glut/BAC, a mixture of Glut and BAC. Alternatively, BBs were treated with 33% (v/v) of a water-soluble (CR_W) or an oil-soluble (CR_O1 or CR_O3) corrosion inhibitor for 20 s after which the corrosion inhibitor was drained off and BBs were packed into columns. The effluent of untreated control columns had no acetate. Treatment with the chemically reactive biocides Glut and THPS, as well as with Glut/BAC, gave a transient increase of acetate indicating decreased microbial activity. This was not seen with BAC alone indicating it to be the least effective biocide. Relative to untreated BBs (100%), those treated periodically with Glut, THPS, BAC, or Glut/BAC had a general weight loss corrosion rate of 91, 81, 45, and 36% of the untreated rate of 0.104 ± 0.004 mm/year, respectively. Single treatment with corrosion inhibitors decreased corrosion to 48, 2, and 1% of the untreated rate for CR_W, CR_O1 and CR_O3, respectively. Analysis of the distribution of corrosion rates from the weight loss of individual BBs (N = 120) indicated the presence of a more slowly and a more rapidly corroding group. BAC treatment prevented emergence of the latter, and this quaternary ammonium detergent appeared most effective in decreasing corrosion not because of its biocidal properties, but because of its corrosion inhibitory properties.


Corrosion rate Sulfate-reducing bacteria Carbon steel Flow Microbial community Biocide Oil field 



We thank Rhonda Clark and Yin Shen for administrative and Tekle Fida and Jaspreet Mand for technical support. We thank Kirk Miner and Pierre Blais from Baker Hughes Canada and Bei Yin from Dow Microbial Control for providing samples of biocides and corrosion inhibitors.

Funding information

This work was supported by an NSERC Industrial Research Chair Award to GV, which was also supported by BP America Production Co., Baker Hughes Canada, Computer Modeling Group Limited, ConocoPhillips Company, Dow Microbial Control, Enbridge, Enerplus Corporation, Intertek, Oil Search (PNG) Limited, Shell Global Solutions International, Suncor Energy Inc., and Yara Norge AS, as well as by Alberta Innovates.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

253_2018_8974_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (587 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 586 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Petroleum Microbiology Research Group, Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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