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Austrian Researchers Address MIC at Wastewater Plants

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

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In response to the consistent concern regarding the corrosion of concrete in wastewater treatment plants, researchers based out of the Graz University of Technology (TU Graz) and the University of Graz collaborated to develop a material that can reportedly prevent such corrosion, often triggered by microorganisms.

According to TU Graz, wastewater systems commonly have a service life of under 10 years before it becomes necessary to refurbish them or have individual components replaced.

Corrosion Conundrum

Microbiologically influenced acid corrosion in wastewater treatment facilities results from biogenic sulfate reduction reactions, followed by reoxidation. This then results in the production of microorganisms that produce sulfuric acid, which reacts with the concrete.

“This leads to the vigorous formation of a biofilm on the surface of the concrete, a reduction of the pH value to below two, in other words highly acidic, and extensive formation of new minerals, mainly in the form of gypsum,” noted Günther Koraimann of the Institute of Molecular Biosciences at the University of Graz. “The combination of these processes results in the rapid destruction of the concrete.”

TU Graz

In response to the consistent concern regarding the corrosion of concrete in wastewater treatment plants, researchers based out of the Graz University of Technology (TU Graz) and the University of Graz collaborated to develop a material that can reportedly prevent this kind of corrosion.

Cyrill Grengg of the Institute of Applied Geosciences at TU Graz added that MIC affecting concrete often corrodes the conventional forms of the material used in treatment plants, usually at a rate of more than a centimeter per year.

“Accordingly, the concrete elements can be destroyed in a matter of only a few years, causing significant damage to wastewater systems,” Grengg said.

Holistic Solution

The team worked in collaboration with the Institute of Construction and Building Materials at TU Darmstadt to develop a geopolymer concrete that was found to be particularly well suited to withstanding acid corrosion.

Both acid resistance and highly antibacteriostatic surfaces were both elements sought after by researchers during the development of the building material. (Microorganisms that trigger the initial oxidation process cannot settle on antibacteriostatic surfaces to begin with. This prevents the formation of sulfuric acid.)

“We achieved some very promising results with materials that have a far greater lifespan than conventional types of concrete,” said Florian Mittermayr of the Institute of Technology and Testing of Construction Materials at TU Graz. “Use of these long-lasting materials would allow operators to refurbish damaged wastewater systems, significantly extending their service life and reducing the financial burden on local government and wastewater associations.”

The team’s findings were published in Water Research.


Tagged categories: concrete; Corrosion; Microbiologically Induced Corrosion (MIC); Research and development; Wastewater Plants

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