Wastewater-Enhanced Microbial Corrosion of Concrete Sewers

Guangming Jiang, Mi Zhou, Tsz Ho Chiu, Xiaoyan Sun, Jurg Keller, Philip L. Bond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Citations (Scopus)


Microbial corrosion of concrete in sewers is known to be caused by hydrogen sulfide, although the role of wastewater in regulating the corrosion processes is poorly understood. Flooding and splashing of wastewater in sewers periodically inoculates the concrete surface in sewer pipes. No study has systematically investigated the impacts of wastewater inoculation on the corrosion of concrete in sewers. This study investigated the development of the microbial community, sulfide uptake activity, and the change of the concrete properties for coupons subjected to periodic wastewater inoculation. The concrete coupons were exposed to different levels of hydrogen sulfide under well-controlled conditions in laboratory-scale corrosion chambers simulating real sewers. It was evident that the periodic inoculation induced higher corrosion losses of the concrete in comparison to noninoculated coupons. Instantaneous measurements such as surface pH did not reflect the cumulative corrosion losses caused by long-term microbial activity. Analysis of the long-term profiles of the sulfide uptake rate using a Gompertz model supported the enhanced corrosion activity and greater corrosion loss. The enhanced corrosion rate was due to the higher sulfide uptake rates induced by wastewater inoculation, although the increasing trend of sulfide uptake rates was slower with wastewater. Increased diversity in the corrosion-layer microbial communities was detected when the corrosion rates were higher. This coincided with the environmental conditions of increased levels of gaseous H 2 S and the concrete type.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8084-8092
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes


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