Advanced science.  Applied technology.


Microbiologically Influenced Corrosion R&D

Microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC) is an area of great concern with respect to the longevity of structural materials. This form of corrosion, primarily in metals, is affected by the presence and activity of living microorganisms. Many metal materials act as trace nutrients for microbes and the natural metabolism of these organisms oxidizes the metal substrate.

Microbial Influenced Corrosion (MIC) Applications

Scientists at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) go into the field to directly collect samples or train and provide equipment and materials for on-site staff to perform collections of microbial or microbiologically influenced corrosion samples. We support clients in the oil and gas industry and other sectors, testing materials under different conditions and evaluating biocides and disinfectants to inhibit microbial growth. Additionally, other forms of sampling might include isokinetic air sampling, water sampling, biofilm sampling, or fuel/oil interface sampling. The materials or targets in which we primarily study MIC include:

Series of 6 petri dishes showing the progression of biocide paint testing on an aircraft

Military paint evaluation using biocide to prevent fungal growth

Substrates:  paints, metals, fuels, storage tanks, pipelines, and coupon tests
Analysis techniques: growth studies in unique environments (e.g., microaerophilic, sulfate-reducing bacteria, sour-gas, high-pressure), lab-scale (bench-top), field studies and microbial monitoring with Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) testing

Method Guidance

  • MIL-STD-810F: Environmental Engineering Considerations and Laboratory Tests
  • NACE TM0194: Field Monitoring of Bacterial Growth in Oil & Gas Systems
  • ASTM E1259: Evaluation of Antimicrobials in Liquid Fuels Boiling Below 390°C
  • ASTM D6974: Enumeration of Viable Bacteria and Fungi in Liquid Fuels
  • Microscopy (e.g., surface attachment, pitting characteristics, biofilm development)
    • Light 3D microscopy
    • ESEM – Environmental Scanning Electron Microscopy
    • SEM – Scanning Electron Microscopy
    • TEM – Transmission Electron Microscopy
    • 6 square pieces of sheet metal painted with military aircraft paint showing the use of biocide to prevent fungal growth

      C-5 aircraft biocide paint testing long-duration observation

    • Raman Microscopy
    • FTIR – Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy

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