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Here Is How Microbially Influenced Corrosion Might Be Damaging Your Industrial Water-Cooling System

Chillers and other water-cooling systems work to cool down your manufacturing facilities and remove any heat buildup or heat byproducts. In this manner, the likelihood of machine failure or a production stoppage decreases and your machines can operate at their best. Water cooling systems exist on different scales and with different functions and technologies to ensure your business’s noble production needs are met.

Many factories depend entirely on their water systems to operate; this is why carrying out regular maintenance procedures and water treatment protocols is crucial. There are two main types of cooling systems, an open loop system where new water is constantly being fed into the system while used water gets flushed out or a closed loop system that keeps recycling and reusing the same water supply. In both cases, production stoppage occurs but a closed loop is much more sustainable for both the environment and your business. In a closed system, your water supply’s lifespan should optimally be quite long, causing your manufacturing process to run without interruptions and thus lowering your costs.

There are many problems that can emerge when dealing with water cooling systems, one major problem is Microbially Influenced Corrosion. This problem can be present in both open loop & closed loop cycles but can be identified slower in closed loops. This is mainly because once the operation starts, signs of corrosion can only occur with signs of system failure, reduced efficiency, leaking, clogging or water discoloration. This is why it is important to treat microbial growth early on and develop an efficient treatment and maintenance plan.

What is Microbially Influenced Corrosion?
Microbially Influenced Corrosion is a process that happens when microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi or algae grow within your water system. Their existence can speed up corrosion by creating an encouraging environment. It can colonize and spread within different parts of your system leaving deposits and promoting metal deterioration. The most common type of microbially influenced corrosion happens because of sulfate reducing bacteria (SRB), while the second most common reason is iron reducing bacteria. There are other less common microorganisms that can cause microbially influenced corrosion such as sulphur oxidizing bacteria, acid producing bacteria, fungi and microalgae.

Sulfate Reducing Bacteria:
SRB is a type of bacteria that can grow in freshwater and feed on its sulphate content, producing hydrogen sulphid which aggressively attacks iron and steel. As an anaerobic type of bacteria, it is capable of thriving in aquatic environments as long as the water is not oxygenated. When exposed to free oxygen or air, it goes into dormancy or simply just dies. This is why this type of microbially influenced corrosion is very common in closed loop systems. They can grow safely and discreetly in lower parts of your system such as tank bottoms, pipeworks, tubercles, pressure vessels and biofilms that grow on the walls. They are capable of surviving in a pH range of 5 to 9, tolerating temperatures as high as 80 degrees, and adapting to chlorinated water.

Iron Reducing Bacteria:
IRB is another type of anaerobic bacteria that can find their way into your water system if they already exist even minimally in your water input or if it gets exposed to aerobic contamination. IRB absorbs iron from its environment, digests it, and turns it into ferric iron. They secrete a slimy brown byproduct that sits as a thick layer in parts such as pipes, the ends of water tanks or towers, sumps and distribution pans. This layer can then be the perfect home for SRB to manifest, grow and create pinholes in the structure.

How can you Identify SRB?
ACTIVA offers an SRB dip slide test that can help you detect sulphate reducing bacteria in less than a week. Simply, add 2ml of your water sample in the tube, incubate it at 30 degrees C for 5 days, and check on it daily for the first 3 days. If no change in color occurs after 5 days of occupation, this indicates your water sample is clean. This modest procedure can save your business a lot of unnecessary problems.

Because of SRB’s high levels of adaptability and tolerance it can adjust to biocides with certain active ingredients such as glutaraldehyde, Benzalkonium chloride and THBS 50%. This is why we at ACTIVA developed REJUVIX®, an innovative range of fast-killer products capable of eliminating all bacterial contamination in a matter of minutes. Shortly after it gets the job done, the product completely breaks down without trace rendering it impossible for an adaptation process to take place. This powerful product can recycle your water supply and save your structures from any existing contaminants. This is why our team suggests that it takes part of the initial steps of your maintenance protocol while our range of water treatment biocides, ARITOL®, or our range of gas and oil biocides, OLIXIDE®, can be added as the final step to preserve your system between your scheduled maintenance services. This way you can sustain and elongate the lifespan of your water systems.

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