Anaerobic (bacterial) corrosion is an important cause of failures of underground structures such as pipelines. Pipeline failures could be prevented if better methods for determining the presence and location of areas of bacterial corrosion existed. A technique was developed which permits the detection and recording of rapid potential fluctuations (noise) produced in a corroding metal. It is believed that this noise is mainly caused by the breaking of protective films on the metal surface. Anaerobic bacterial corrosion also produces a type of noise, probably due to the breaking of iron sulfide films.
Preliminary evidence indicates that detection and production of this noise on pipelines may offer promise in locating areas of microbial corrosion as well as other types of corrosion. Differences in the type of noise signal could enable differentiation between biological and nonbiological corrosion. Continuing studies should verify or reject these premises.
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