Role of Transient Iron Sulfide Films in Microbial Corrosion of Steel

H. Tributsch, J. A. Rojas-Chapana, C. C. Bärtels, A. Ennaoui, W. Hofmann

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33 Citations (Scopus)


To simulate the role of sulfurized iron generated by sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) in the biocorrosion of steel, ultrathin (50-nm to 200-nm-thick) iron sulfide layers were prepared by metal organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD), sulfurization of iron oxides, and spray pyrolysis. After analyzing the morphology of the layers, they were exposed to sulfide-oxidizing bacteria (Thiobacillus ferrooxidans) to investigate their corrosion activities for two different iron sulfides (pyrite and marcasite). The corrosion patterns generated by bacterial cells and the morphological changes that the cells underwent during leaching were studied in-situ with high-resolution video-optical microscopy. The role of structural defects in the sulfide layers and the influence of an anionic surfactant on sulfide corrosion also were evaluated. TEM observations revealed the Thiobacillus ferrooxidans cells used an excreted organic film in which sulfide-sulfur was collected from iron disulfide (FeS2) in the form of tiny particles acting as temporary energy storage sites. The energy cycle responsible for microbial corrosion of steel and the symbiosis (collective corrosion) between SRB and aerobic iron sulfide-oxidizing bacteria were discussed based upon the investigated systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)216-227
Number of pages12
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1998
Externally publishedYes



  • Biocorrosion
  • Films and film formation
  • Iron sulfide
  • Marcasite
  • Microbiologically influenced corrosion
  • Pyrite layers
  • Steel
  • Sulfate-reducing bacteria
  • Sulfide oxidation
  • Thiobacillus ferrooxidans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Metals and Alloys

Cite this

Tributsch, H., Rojas-Chapana, J. A., Bärtels, C. C., Ennaoui, A., & Hofmann, W. (1998). Role of Transient Iron Sulfide Films in Microbial Corrosion of Steel. Corrosion, 54(3), 216-227.