Corrosion is a severe problem for steel structures in humid environments. In particular, humidity usually triggers the surface adhesion of microorganisms, leading to microbiologically induced corrosion. This study aims to explore the effect of bacterial biofilm formation on the pitting corrosion of stainless steel. This research uses electrochemical methods to obtain indirect evidence of the pitting corrosion of steel. In addition, in order to obtain direct evidence of the pitting corrosion of stainless steel, field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM) were used to characterize the dimensional morphology of the stainless steel after pitting. It was shown that the bacterial adhesion increased with the pH and temperature, which significantly increased the surface roughness of the stainless steel. Electrochemical analysis revealed that the formation of biofilm greatly destroyed the oxide film of 304 SS and accelerated the corrosion of stainless steel by forming an oxygen concentration battery. SEM and AFM analyses showed cracks and dislocations on the surface of stainless steel underneath the attached bacteria, which suggested a direct role of biofilm in corrosion induction. The results presented here show that the bacterial biofilm formation on the steel surfaces significantly accelerated the corrosion and affected the pitting corrosion process of the steel structure.
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