Biodeterioration of aluminium hot roll mill emulsions.
An in-depth study of the biodeterioration of the Hulett Aluminium hot roll mill emulsion, Prosol, was conducted. Samples of the emulsion in use at the hot roll mill were taken from various areas of the emulsion reticulation system in order to identify regions of highest microbial contamination. Standard plate count techniques and diagnostic procedures were employed to quantify and identify the microorganisms in these samples. In some of the highly contaminated areas of the emulsion reticulation system, microorganisms exceeded lxlO'CFUml'1 emulsion. A range of bacteria was identified which included members of the genera: Bacillus; Pseudomonas; Escherichia; Enterobacter; Sporosarcina; Micrococcus; Aeromonas; Chromobacterium and Desulfovibrio. Various fungi, including several yeasts, were also isolated and some of the filamentous spore-forming types were identified zsAspergillus spp.; Penicillium spp. and a Cladosporium sp. A visual scale was developed to assess the growth rate of the isolated microorganisms on a range of specific media containing various emulsion components as carbon and energy source. Although the results obtained by using this scale were not conclusive, a few biodegradable components were nonetheless identified. It was found that mixed cultures of the above microorganisms had a greater biodeteriorative effect on the emulsion than did any of the pure cultures when applied separately. This suggested complex microbial interactions were involved in the breakdown of the emulsion. A laboratory-scale model system representative of the Hulett Aluminium hot roll mill was designed and constructed to carry out a series of tests on unprotected and biocide-treated emulsions. A range of biocide concentrations were tested from which the minimum biocide inhibitory concentration was calculated. It was shown that microorganisms exposed to sublethal doses of the biocide Busan (active component glutaraldehyde) over a prolonged period of time, exhibited greater levels of tolerance and resistance to the biocide than did those microorganisms not previously exposed. It was deduced that less frequent, shock doses of biocide are more effective in the control and eradication of emulsion degrading microorganisms than are frequent, low level doses of the same biocide. In addition to the biocide studies, three imported so-called 'biostable' emulsions were evaluated as possible replacements for the susceptible Prosol. Of these three imported emulsions, two viz. HRF3 and Houghton Biostable were shown to be more resistant than Prosol to biodeterioration. After assessing the current hot roll mill management practices, a number of recommendations were made, including: the improvement of plant hygiene; education of the mill workers; improvement of emulsion monitoring; improvement of down-time management and improvement of biocide dosing regimes. Recommendations are also made for minimizing potential microbial growth in the new hot roll mill currently under construction at the Hulett Aluminium processing plant at Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.