Monitoring Microbiologically Influenced Corrosion (MIC) with Intact Cell Count (ICC)

Microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC) refers to corrosions caused by the presence and activities of microorganisms. Viable microorganisms widely exist in natural environments. Corrosion initiates when microorganisms adhere to the interfaces of materials and form biofilms. Beneath the biofilm, physical and chemical conditions, such as pH and dissolved oxygen levels, can be changed due to the metabolic activity of bacteria and other microorganisms. Metabolite products from microorganisms, e.g. organic acids, break down materials and result in localized corrosion, which if remain uncontrolled, can lead to pinholes and leaks. Consequences of MIC can thus include negative impact on product quality, disruption in production processes, accelerated degradation of equipment, and more.

MIC has been recognized worldwide as an important corrosion category that leads to significant asset losses and dangerous conditions across industries. Especially in the oil and gas industry, MIC poses a severe threat to the integrity, safety, and reliability of pipeline operations [1]. A recent study notes that, although more than 2,000 papers on MIC have been published in the last 25 years, companies remain unable to mitigate MIC which is still costing many billions of US dollars each year [2].

To better prevent MIC, a reliable way to detect the presence of viable microorganisms is needed in the field. At rqmicro, we recommend our Intact Cell Count (ICC) tests as a powerful on-site tool to provide fast and accurate assessment of total microbiological load in your system.

Fast assessment of water microbiology based on single cell counting of viable cells

The rqmicro ICC tests allows you to:
     Count viable microorganisms on a single cell level, and get quantitative results                within 30 minutes.
     Monitor critical control points in almost real-time, providing you direct insight into          the total bioburden of a system.
     Pinpoint the spots with high bioburden in a system, allow immediate treatment                actions, and evaluate the success of the treatment within the same day.

Furthermore, rqmicro suggests industrial managers to perform routine microbial monitoring with the rqmicro ICC test kits and the rqmicro.COUNT instrument, with which you can:
     Receive early warning and view historical trend through the could platform on any          mobile devices.
     Stay proactive and make good management decisions to control MIC risks, and to         prevent health, safety and economic damages.
     Save energy, minimize biofilm-caused energy loss in heating or cooling process.
     Increase the efficiency of chemical treatment and reduce chemical costs.

To fundamentally solve the problem of MIC, just a good monitoring method is not enough. The design of a system and materials used need to be carefully evaluated with regard to MIC. Coatings and other preventive approaches also need to be taken into consideration. And once the risk of MIC has been identified, proper chemical or physical treatments needed to be done. Therefore, collaboration is needed from experts from various fields such as material science, system engineering and microbiology. Only then we will come up with an integrated solution to eventually control and inhibit MIC.

Learn more about the rqmicro.COUNT tests that we provide for industrial managers or contact us today.

More About MIC:
[1] Judit Telegdi, Abdul Shaban, Laszlo Trif, Microbiology-influenced corrosion (MIC), Trends in Oil and Gas Corrosion Research and Technologies, 2017.  

[2] B.J. Little, D.J. Blackwood, J. Hinks, F.M. Lauro, E. Marsili, A. Okamoto, S.A. Rice, S.A. Wade, H.-C. Flemming, Microbially influenced corrosion—Any progress?, Corrosion Science, Volume 170, 2020.  

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