Publication Details

Li, X., O'Moore, L., Song, Y., Bond, P. L., Yuan, Z., Wilkie, S., Hanzic, L. & Jiang, G. (2019). The rapid chemically induced corrosion of concrete sewers at high H2S concentration. Water Research, 162 95-104.


Concrete corrosion in sewers is primarily caused by H2S in sewer atmosphere. H2S concentration can vary from several ppm to hundreds of ppm in real sewers. Our understanding of sewer corrosion has increased dramatically in recent years, however, there is limited knowledge of the concrete corrosion at high H2S levels. This study examined the corrosion development in sewers with high H2S concentrations. Fresh concrete coupons, manufactured according to sewer pipe standards, were exposed to corrosive conditions in a pilot-scale gravity sewer system with gaseous H2S at 1100 ± 100 ppm. The corrosion process was continuously monitored by measuring the surface pH, corrosion product composition, corrosion loss and the microbial community. The surface pH of concrete was reduced from 10.5 ± 0.3 to 3.1 ± 0.5 within 20 days and this coincided with a rapid corrosion rate of 3.5 ± 0.3 mm year −1. Microbial community analysis based on 16S rRNA gene sequencing indicated the absence of sulfide-oxidizing microorganisms in the corrosion layer. The chemical analysis of corrosion products supported the reaction of cement with sulfuric acid formed by the chemical oxidation of H2S. The rapid corrosion of concrete in the gravity pipe was confirmed to be caused by the chemical oxidation of hydrogen sulfide at high concentrations. This is in contrast to the conventional knowledge that is focused on microbially induced corrosion. This first-ever systematic investigation shows that chemically induced oxidation of H2S leads to the rapid corrosion of new concrete sewers within a few weeks. These findings contribute novel understanding of in-sewer corrosion processes and hold profound implications for sewer operation and corrosion management.

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