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    An Overview of the Anaerobic Corrosion of Underground Metallic Structures, Evidence for a New Mechanism

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    Anaerobic corrosion of iron occurs throughout the world and, from an economic standpoint, is quite costly. Sulfate-reducing bacteria, primarily of the genus Desulfovibrio, are responsible for this type of corrosion. It has been postulated that corrosion by these bacteria is caused by their removal of hydrogen from the surface of iron causing it to go into solution. Evidence is presented which indicates that this mechanism may not be responsible for the main corrosive effect of these organisms. These bacteria appear to cause corrosion by producing extracellularly, under anaerobic conditions, a highly corrosive product in addition to hydrogen sulfide. The factors controlling the fate of iron in anaerobic environments, conducive to the growth of sulfate-reducing bacteria, may depend on whether iron sulfide film formation by hydrogen sulfide occurs first, thereby inhibiting corrosion, or whether the highly corrosive substance comes in contact with the iron before film formation has occurred, thereby accelerating corrosion. The antagonistic actions of these two compounds, hydrogen sulfide and the corrosive product, on corrosion produced by sulfate-reducing bacteria, could explain the conflicting observations on anaerobic corrosion noted by investigators in the field and laboratory.


    anaerobic corrosion, film formation, microbial corrosion, cathodic depolarization, hydrogen sulfide, overview, corrosion rates, iron phosphide, sulfate reducing bacteria, Desulfovibrio, mechanism, vivianite, underground corrosion

    Author Information:

    Iverson, WP
    Microbiologist, National Bureau of Standards, Washington, D.C.,

    Committee/Subcommittee: G01.10

    DOI: 10.1520/STP28254S