Microbiologically-Induced Corrosion (MIC), in systems like pipelines, is caused by microorganisms that contribute to rapid degradation of metals and alloys. MIC is a growing issue, and major gas leaks, such as California’s massive Porter Ranch natural gas leak in 2015, have been attributed to microbial corrosion, accounting for an estimated $1 billion in lost revenue, clean-up, repair, and lawsuits annually.
More than 2.5 million miles of pipeline cris-cross the United States, delivering natural gas and oil to homes, businesses and industries. NETL set a mission to ensure safety, as this pipeline network ages, and prevent disruptions in the flow of critical energy resources.
MIC can create pitting, under deposit, and galvanic corrosion that can lead to leaks and ruptures in gas lines. With support from U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), Oceanit pursued development and evaluation of DragX nanocomposite surface treatment technologies as a solution to the looming MIC threat facing the U.S.’s sprawling natural gas infrastructure.
In trials starting in 2020, Oceanit successfully demonstrated that DragX surface treatment protects metal surfaces against corrosion, deposition, and degradation, especially against Microbiologically-Induced Corrosion, which has eluded industrial researchers for decades.
Corrosion tests completed by an independent lab confirmed that DragX provides substantial protection against both bacteria colony attachment and metal penetration. This function mitigates corrosion, resulting in substantially less material loss and weakening of the metal, meaning fewer leaks.
DragX-treated pipes were 36 times better at preventing corrosion material loss compared to untreated samples in accelerated-MIC lab tests
The DragX research effort led by NETL and Oceanit produced an ultra-thin surface treatment that could significantly improve the reliability of the nation’s extensive energy pipeline network by reducing corrosion and surface friction on pipe walls.
Test sections of pipe treated with DragX were tested against unprotected sections in lab environments that purposely accelerated MIC. DragX was 36 times better at preventing corrosion material loss compared to untreated samples. In simpler terms, a pipe treated with DragX could take 36 years to corrode as much as an untreated pipe corrodes in just one year.
In the laboratory data, MIC demonstrated that it could eat through approximately 20% wall thickness in just 3 years. Use of DragX treatment under the same conditions would require 105 years of linear corrosion to reach the same 20% wall loss, far exceeding any reasonable expected lifetime of the underlying steel.
DragX’s independent lab results show how significant the effect of Oceanit’s treatments is in arresting the spread of MIC – and demonstrate the significant potential it has in being a preventative measure against these challenging conditions in the country’s natural gas infrastructure.
Mitigating MIC with DragX would make industrial systems far safer, protecting integrity and delivering a massive impact in both economic and health terms.
DragX can be applied to refurbish aging natural gas infrastructure, which continues to creak under the strain of increased capacity and energy demands across the nation. So, although we all continue to transform our nation’s energy policy to renewables, these kinds of disruptive technology give us time to more cleanly and reliably operate current infrastructure while we transform the planet to carbon neutral.
Sulfate Reducing Bacteria (SRB) strain “Desulfovibro Vulgaris” is kept in a growth media broth (pH 7, 16 g/L brine) at 1000psi and 37°C under inert nitrogen atmosphere in a pressure cell.
Coupons consist of machined 1018 Carbon Steel, Coupons were 1” in diameter with 1 exposed side.
Total exposure time was 1000 hours.
- DragX-treated pipes were 36 times better at preventing corrosion material loss compared to untreated samples in accelerated-MIC lab tests
- Field tests found no formation of MIC pitting or damage, compared to untreated pipe which showed significant damages
- The U.S. Dept of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory is supporting ongoing development of DragX to lower the risk of methane leaks