A number of water systems can be severely damaged or destroyed by MIC or Microbial Induced Corrosion. Due to the complexity of this issue, it can be hard to understand exactly how it works. Because microorganisms are everywhere all around us, that means that they are also present in cold water systems that can be extremely costly to repair or replace once damaged. Ways to combat this problematic process are being developed, and hopes are high that there is a viable way to stop it. So what are the most important things you need to know to have a solid understanding of MIC?
First and foremost, you need to understand what microorganisms are and how they work. Microorganisms are often referred to as single celled organisms, and a popular one you have probably heard of is bacteria. This is the type of microorganism involved in MIC, and the bacteria that causes MIC is anaerobic or essentially only grow and thrive where there is little to no oxygen supply. However, they can live in aerobic conditions or conditions where oxygen is present but they will not thrive and will not grow in those areas.
Now that we know that anaerobic bacteria causes this corrosion, the next tip to understanding MIC is to understand that the bacteria forms a biofilm, which is when these bacteria stick together and then utilize a surface and stick to that as well. The surfaces in MIC are typically pipes in water systems, sewage systems, and the like. In simple terms, the biofilm literally eats away at the metals or creates chemical conditions in the water that eat away at the metal.
Okay, now we know that the bacterial microorganisms create a biofilm on surfaces of components of water systems, you also need to know what kind of damages this causes exactly. The most common type of damage caused by MIC is called pitting; pitting happens on many surfaces but this application is speaking about metals. Pitting is basically where the metal is eaten always in a very centered region, eventually causing a hole in the same place. While a hole in metal piping does not render the rest of the piping as useless, it does render entire systems useless until appropriate repairs can be made to them.
The next important tip to getting a good grip on your knowledge of MIC is to realize how costly the repairs to systems affected by MIC are. Because the majority of systems where MIC occurs are in the industrial sector, you have the costs of materials, labor, consumables, and the amount of revenue that has been lost to a reduction or halt in production and subsequently in sales.
The last point of understanding that is needed to comprehend MIC is that there have been ways to combat it, but currently, most of these methods are merely “band-aids” on the situation. Different products have been used to coat the surfaces of the components that are typically affected to fight off the biofilm. This can be effective for a period of time but just like anything, those wear off with use and flow, again exposing the surfaces to MIC. Another way that has been used to remedy this problem is attaching some type of monitoring apparatus to specific components so that when signs of corrosion are detected they can be dealt with immediately. This reduces the costs associated with repairs and or replacements, however it does not prevent MIC all together.
The reality of Microbial Induced Corrosion is that it is present everywhere, and not all systems can use chemicals to flush bacteria out. Reasons for this are compromising the system or the systems purpose and harming the environment. Bacteria also has the potential to become resistant to chemicals as well because of its natural ability to adapt. Hopefully with widespread understanding of what MIC is and what causes it, more ideas can be contributed to developing a viable solution that is not too costly and does not reduce the effectiveness of what it is being used on.