DNA Analyses solve the corrosion problem
A better understanding of biofilm formation is required to help at defining new environmental friendly mitigation methods for microbially induced corrosion, or to avoid health issues due to bacterial contamination of metallic surfaces.
Many issues can be attributed to the direct or indirect actions of bacterial development on materials. It includes both corrosion (so-called Microbially Induced Corrosion) aspects and also health considerations when dealing with metallic materials involved in potable water handling systems.
Collaboration with microbiologists
Swerea has been working for several years in collaboration with microbiologists in the analysis of the nature of bacteria involved in the corrosion processes. It includes the use of the most advanced techniques for DNA and RNA sequencing together with high-resolution imaging techniques. A PhD-thesis is on-going on this topic at Institut de la Corrosion, a daughter company of Swerea, to better understand the exact nature and actions of bacteria in corrosion.
Optimise for minimal bacteria growth
The work performed so far has led to the characterisation of bacterial communities involved in the increase in the open circuit potential of stainless steel in seawater. From this work, it will be possible to design alternative mitigation techniques to replace chlorination that is widely used today in for instance for cooling water units but rises environmental concerns.
In parallel, risks of bacteria developing on metal surfaces or on new coatings being developed for potable water handling systems have been investigated in different projects using similar advanced techniques. These studies have helped to select materials and surface treatments optimised for corrosion performance and minimal bacterial growth.