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Rapid Methods for Assessing Microbes Relevant to Corrosion


March 1992


Redefining International Standards and Practices for the Oil and Gas Industries

London, UK


Conference Paper


Oil Plus Ltd

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P F Sanders


Rapid Methods for Assessing Microbes Relevant to Corrosion

This paper reviews existing and developing methods which give the promise of obtaining a rapid estimation of the numbers and/or the activity of problem-causing microbes in industrial systems. Whilst many of these methods need to be carried out by trained microbiological technicians and others are only used in research laboratories, some have been developed into commercially available test kits, primarily for sulphate-reducing bacteria. Such kits will undoubtedly be more widely used in the future in applications where speed of result rather than precision is required. There is currently no well defined set of standard practices covering the use of such novel techniques. At the present time, therefore, their use should be backed up by conventional test methods to obtain a correlation between existing and novel methods. In this review, a number of commercial test kits are discussed or described: the mention of any particular test kit does not imply the endorsement of the product by the author. Any new method must be fully assessed prior to its use as a monitoring tool.

Biofouling (growth of bacteria in a biofilm) is of prime importance in microbiologically influenced corrosion. Testing of bacteria in biofilms and assessing biofouling rates are both important aspects when investigating microbial problems, but measurements of biofouling rates are rarely carried out on a regular basis. Such methods will, however undoubtedly develop significantly in the future and be more widely used.

This paper describes techniques which are used, or could be developed, to give rapid assessment of:

  • general microbiological contamination (non-selective)
  • specific types of problem organisms (selective)
  • individual species or strains (highly selective)
  • biofouling rates.