Metals and Materials International

, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 496–506 | Cite as

Failure Analysis of Pitted Copper Pipes Used in Underground Water and Preventive Measures

  • Gi-ho Nam
  • Jong-kwon Lee
  • Kyung-ja Kim


This study performed an experiment on the causes of pitting corrosion in a copper tubing used for a sprinkler system. Corrosion products of a copper tubing that sustained pitting corrosion were collected and cultured in Culture medium [Luria–Bertani, Brain heart infusion, Tryptic soy broth (TSB), R2A]. Four types of bacteria were found through identification: Micrococcus luteus sp (species)., Staphylococcus sp., Sphingomonas sp., and Bacillus sp. The copper toxicity test was performed for each microorganism. Among the four microorganisms, Micrococcus luteus sp. showed good growth in the environment containing copper ions. On the immersion test, changes in pH and Optical density were measured; On the inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry test, the copper concentration of each culture medium was measured. The surface of each copper sample was observed using a scanning electron microscope. The corrosion potential of a copper sample, after 48 h exposure of the TSB medium containing Micrococcus luteus sp., was measured using a potentiodynamic polarization experiment. The next experiment was conducted to prevent microbial corrosion by suppressing the growth of microorganisms. Six 30 ml TSB culture media with controlled pH value of 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 through HCl and NaOH were manufactured. Then the microorganisms were cultured in 37 °C 133 rpm, of which the growth status was checked every 24 h for 3 days. It was found that microorganisms did not grow on culture media with the pH value of 6 and lower. The same experiment conducted on culture media controlled with acetic acid, nitric acid, and sulfuric acid, also showed no growth of microorganisms on media with pH value of 6 and lower. Six 5 ml TSB culture media each containing 0.5, 0.25, 0.125, 0.0625, 0.0312%, and 0.0156% NaOCl and NaOBr as germicides were manufactured. 0.01 μl of microorganisms were inoculated on the media and cultured in 37 °C for 48 h. It was found that microorganisms did not grow in media with NaOCl and NaOBr concentration of 0.0625% and higher. Therefore, it can be suggested that in environments with pH value of 6 or lower, or NaOCl and NaOBr concentration of higher than 0.0625% suppresses microbial growth, thereby preventing microbial corrosion.


Copper pipes Pitting corrosion Microbiologically influenced corrosion Bacteria Micrococcus luteus 



This research was supported by the Soonchunhyang University Research Fund.


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Copyright information

© The Korean Institute of Metals and Materials 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Materials EngineeringSoonchunhyang UniversityAsanKorea
  2. 2.Department of Life ScienceSoonchunhyang UniversityAsanKorea

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