Space technology helps track corrosion-causing bacteria in oil pipelines

ESA teamed up with Bioclear among others, a Dutch company focused on soil pollution, to build a better, bacteria-based biological air filter for space . It was part of ESA’s efforts to make sure the air in the International Space Station (ISS) is safe to breathe. Today, thanks to their Microbial Analysis technology, Bioclear can also identify the presence of a bacterial threat in water or soil and estimate how powerful that threat might be. This has come in handy for a variety of commercial applications, from tracking hygiene issues in drinking water to monitoring pollutant-degrading bacteria in contaminated soil. However, ‘biocorrosion’ is their largest market. Corrosion of metal is a chemical process, but 40–50% of this corrosion is stimulated by certain bacteria. By analysing a sample of water or soil, Bioclear determines the risk posed to metals there. This is useful in a number of scenarios, including ships docked in harbours. But one of the company’s largest biocorrosion markets is pipelines, as pipelines in the ground run through different soil types. If you know a certain soil promotes corrosion, it is possible to adjust the inspection schedule. Noting that certain bacteria can speed the corrosion of metal by up to 100 times it is interesting to know where the weak spots are.

Oil & Gas
Space technology helps track corrosion-causing bacteria in oil pipelines
Technology Transfer
Philip Raitt; Cornelis Eldering