Influence of Dissolved-Aluminum Concentration on Sulfur-Oxidizing Bacterial Activity in the Biodeterioration of Concrete.


LISBP, Université de Toulouse, CNRS, INRA, INSA, Toulouse, France [Email]


Several studies undertaken on the biodeterioration of concrete sewer infrastructures have highlighted the better durability of aluminate-based materials. The bacteriostatic effect of aluminum has been suggested to explain the increase in durability of these materials. However, no clear demonstration of the negative effect of aluminum on cell growth has been yet provided in the literature. In the present study, we sought to investigate the inhibitory potential of dissolved aluminum on nonsterile microbial cultures containing sulfur-oxidizing microorganisms. Both kinetic (maximum specific growth rate) and stoichiometric (oxygen consumption yield) parameters describing cells activity were accurately determined by using respirometry measurements coupled with modeled data obtained from fed-batch cultures run for several days at pH below 4 and with increasing total aluminum (Altot) concentrations from 0 to 100 mM. Short-term inhibition was observed for cells poorly acclimated to high salinity. However, inhibition was significantly attenuated for cells grown on mortar substrate. Moreover, after a rapid adaptation, and for an Altot concentration up to 100 mM, both kinetic and stoichiometric growth parameters remained similar to those obtained in control culture conditions where no aluminum was added. This argued in favor of the impact of ionic strength change on the growth of sulfur-oxidizing microorganism rather than an inhibitory effect of dissolved aluminum. Other assumptions must therefore be put forward in order to explain the better durability of cement containing aluminate-based materials in sewer networks. Among these assumptions, the influence of physical or chemical properties of the material (phase reactivity, porosity, etc.) might be proposed.IMPORTANCE Biodeterioration of cement infrastructures represents 5 to 20% of observed deteriorations within the sewer network. Such biodeterioration events are mainly due to microbial sulfur-oxidizing activity which produces sulfuric acid able to dissolve cementitious material. Calcium aluminate cement materials are more resistant to biodeterioration compared to the commonly used Portland cement. Several theories have been suggested to describe this resistance, and the bacteriostatic effect of aluminum seems to be the most plausible explanation. However, results reported by the several studies on this exact topic are highly controversial. This present study provides a comprehensive analysis of the influence of dissolved aluminum on growth parameters of long-term cultures of sulfur-oxidizing bacterial consortia sampled from different origins. Kinetic and stoichiometric parameters estimated by respirometry measurements and modeling showed that total dissolved-aluminum concentrations up to 100 mM were not inhibitory, but it is more likely that a sudden increase in the ionic strength affects cell growth. Therefore, it appears that the bacteriostatic effect of aluminum on microbial growth cannot explain the better durability of aluminate based cementitious materials.


concrete biodeterioration,inhibition by aluminum,kinetic parameters,respirometry,sulfur-oxidizing bacteria,

OUR Recent Articles