Crenothrix Polyspora

Definition - What does Crenothrix Polyspora mean?

Crenothrix polyspora is a genus of filamentous bacteria which utilize iron in their metabolism, and cause staining, plugging and taste and odor problems in water systems.

Crenothrix polyspora was discovered and described by Cohn in 1870 while studying the brown flocculent precipitates which had rendered well waters undrinkable.

They are particularly troublesome in iron-containing well waters. They have also been found in tubercles and other deposits linked to microbiologically induced corrosion (MIC).

Corrosionpedia explains Crenothrix Polyspora

Crenothrix polyspora is an iron bacterium that oxidizes ferrous iron and produces gelatinous ferric oxide deposits. The resulting ferric oxide is insoluble, and appears as brown gelatinous slime that stains plumbing fixtures as well as clothing or utensils washed with the water carrying it. It is one of several types of bacteria which utilize iron in their metabolism and are capable of depositing gelatinous ferric hydroxide. These organisms tend to collect in pipelines and tanks during periods of low flow, and to break loose in slugs of turbid water to create staining, taste and odor problems.

These bacteria can cause serious operational, maintenance and corrosion problems. The main problems caused by it and associated slime include:

  • Corroded piping and equipment
  • Increased organic content favors multiplication of other bacteria
  • Reduced flow due to clogged screens and pipes
  • Staining
  • Stainless steel attack by ferric chloride and ferric-manganese chloride metabolic byproduct

They are almost always observed in tubercles (discrete hemispherical mounds) over pits on steel surfaces. The observation that filamentous iron bacteria are omnipresent in tubercles might be, therefore, more a matter of their easy detection than of their relative abundance.

Treatment techniques which may be successful in removing or reducing iron bacteria include physical removal, pasteurization and chemical treatment. Treatment of heavily infected wells may be difficult, expensive and only partially successful.

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