New Research Project Targets Biofilm Corrosion in Pipelines

The Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) (San Antonio, Texas) and The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) (San Antonio, Texas) announced a new research project involving pipeline corrosion through their collaborative Connecting through Research Partnerships (Connect) program.
The project to investigate biofilm corrosion in pipelines is slated to begin on September 1, 2016, and it will receive $125,000 in funding.
“These joint UTSA and SwRI programs leverage talent at both organizations, build strong teams for future contract opportunities, and accelerate the transition of fundamental research to the public,” says Michael MacNaughton, vice president of the SwRI’s chemistry and chemical engineering division.
Biofilms often cause microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC) and are a serious problem in pipelines and other infrastructure. SwRI and UTSA say they will collaborate to gain a better understanding of MIC by collecting genomic and metabolic data from biofilms. In turn, the data will be used to develop models to predict corrosion and identify potential novel inhibitors of biofilm formation.
The research is geared toward the petroleum industry, where problematic biofilms occur in many of the production and distribution processes. However, it also has broad implications in other pipeline industries, as well as in medical applications where dental and other types of implants are used.
Manager Tony Reeves, Principal Scientist Kennedy Gauger, and Scientist Kenneth Lange, all of SwRI’s pharmaceuticals and bioengineering department, will collaborate with UTSA College of Engineering researcher Heather Shipley, chair of the civil and environmental engineering department, and Gisella Lamas-Samanamud, a postdoctoral fellow, on the project, titled “Molecular Characterization and Quorum Sensing of Microbiologically Influenced Corrosion (MIC) in Pipeline Populations.”
The Connect program was founded to enhance scientific collaboration between SwRI and UTSA and increase their research funding base. Over the past six years, 11 projects have been funded under the joint SwRI-UTSA program.