blog  •  Aug 31

Bacteria Control and Mitigation: Critical for Maintaining Performance and Materials Integrity

Water is one of the foundations of life for humans. However, as we all know, it is also essential for many other plants, animals and microorganisms. As a result, many applications that use water can, and do have microorganisms in them, or the potential to grow in them.

In many cases this can be very problematic. Contaminated drinking water is an obvious issue as it can cause significant health problems. However, bacteria in industrial water can cause issues like plugging and corrosion which can lead to very significant issues for both safety and the environment.

In certain applications, such as hydraulic fracturing, corrosion caused by “Sulfate reducing bacteria” (SRB) and “Acid Producing Bacteria” (APB) has the potential to cause multimillion dollars’ worth of damage and increased risk for equipment failure. Without proper mitigation, this indeed happens. The bacteria grow very rapidly when uncontrolled due to the many organic molecules in the water acting as food. (1) The bacteria begin as planktonic forms but build up biofilms when not controlled. The biofilms are much more resilient and require stronger and harsher control, and also cause more damage (and can lead to plugging).

Certain phosphonium salts, such as tributyl(tetradecyl)phosphonium chloride (TTPC), have demonstrated efficacy at controlling both classes of bacteria, (2-7) by appropriate addition of specific amounts of this molecule.

Tributyl(tetradecyl)phosphonium Chloride CYPHOS® 4345W Strem Catalog #: 15-7585

The efficacy of this molecule is seen to be effective at low levels over long periods of time. One method of testing is measuring mass loss over time at varying levels. Figure 1 shows at just 20 ppm the phosphonium salt demonstrates the best performance vs other common biocides. This performance is still observed after 6 weeks. This long-term control helps mitigate the planktonic bacteria from building up, and thus less biofilm accumulation.

Figure 1 - Weight loss of steel coupons after bacteria (SRB/APB Mix) and biocide exposures.

This control and mitigation of bacteria over long periods of time also allows for dosing less often, which leads to improved costs and reduced downtime.

**This particular phosphonium salt works well with industrial water but should not be used in any drinking water applications**

Please refer to the SDS for CYPHOS® 4345W for proper handling of the product.

To learn more about other ligands for catalysis, please refer to the Solvay offering via the Strem Catalog or on the Solvay website.


1. Microbes- Oilfield Enemies or Allies? SPE Oilfield Review, 2012.

2. Borch, T et al. Environ. Science & Tech., 2014, DOI: 10.1021/es503724k.

3. US Patent 20160100584

4. US Patent 20160102002

5. US Patent 2016100582

6. Jensen, M. et al. NACE, 2012.

7. Krame, J.F. et al NACE 2008.

Featured Product

15-7585 Tributyltetradecyl phosphonium chloride, (ca. 50% in water), CYPHOS® 4345W (81741-28-8)

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