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Nalco Champion Microbial Expertise Lifts Off to International Space Station

November 27, 2018
Mission MIC

Nalco Champion, an Ecolab company, has cemented its reputation as the leader in developing solutions for Microbiologically Influenced Corrosion (MIC) here on Earth. In December, the next phase of developing that expertise will take flight into space.

 

Nalco Champion has developed an experiment, Mission MIC, that studies bacterial biofilm behavior in the microgravity environment on the International Space Station (ISS). The 40-day experiment can help our researchers understand new techniques to mitigate corrosion in oil and gas equipment.

 

“We know biofilm growth in microgravity is significantly increased,” Upstream RD&E Director Vic Keasler said. “By comparing that biofilm growth and biofilms grown in normal Earth gravity, we can understand the impact of film thickness on corrosion without the variable of time.”

 

Microbiologically Influenced Corrosion (MIC) is responsible for 20 to 50 percent of all corrosion damage, costing up to US$1.5 trillion globally. Bacteria in oil and gas production can lead to MIC that ruins equipment and shuts down production.

 

“This is a multi-billion-dollar challenge each year across the oil and gas industry,” Vic said. “Through this experiment, we’re attempting to fill a critical knowledge gap in the industry to identify optimal biocide dosage rates and timing based on biofilm thickness and levels at which corrosion initiates.”

"This is a multi-billion-dollar challenge each year across the oil and gas industry. Through this experiment, we’re attempting to fill a critical knowledge gap to identify optimal biocide dosage rates and timing based on biofilm thickness and levels at which corrosion initiates."

Vic Keasler
Director, Nalco Champion Upstream RD&E

 

The Mission MIC experiment will be part of a payload of about 300 kg of research and hardware facilities that will be delivered to the International Space Station (ISS) on a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft scheduled to launch from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Tuesday, Dec. 4, at 12:39 p.m. CST. The experiment will be one of more than 20 included on the mission, which is sponsored by the ISS National Lab.

 

The Mission MIC experiment was planned in partnership with Center for Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), a non-profit, non-government organization that manages the ISS. During the past eight years, CASIS has selected more than 200 ISS research projects to be conducted in space.

 

Nalco Champion’s oil and gas microbiology teams based in Sugar Land and Aberdeen work every day on understanding and identifying microbial risk by working with the world’s largest repository of DNA sequences of oilfield microorganisms, with more than 12,000 unique profiles. The organization has presented more than 40 related industry technical papers during the past 10 years and has delivered industry-leading monitoring technologies to identify these MIC risks.

 

To learn more about the Nalco Champion experiment payloads on SpaceX’s 16th commercial resupply mission sponsored by the ISS National Lab, please see the experiment overview on NASA’s website.

 

To learn more about the capabilities of the ISS National Lab, including past research initiatives and available facilities, visit www.iss-casis.org.

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Hear More about Mission MIC from our RD&E Experts

Our Microbial Expertise Goes to Space

Mission MIC is a collaboration between Ecolab and CASIS that will enable us to study how oilfield biofilms grow in zero gravity versus what we see on earth. The experiment will launch onto the International Space Station in December 2018 and will help us answer questions that affect oilfield microbiology today.