The active range of Desulfovibrio desulfuricans. a species of sulfate-reducing bacteria, was examined in terms of pH and Eh using a fermenter at controlled pH and Eh. Such research is important because sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) are thought to exist underground at depths equal to those of supposed repositories for high-level radioactive wastes and to be capable of inducing corrosion of the metals used in containment vessels.
SRB activity was estimated at 35°C, with lactate as an electron donor, at a pH range from 7 to 11 and Eh range from 0 to -380 mV. Activity increased as pH approached neutral and Eh declined. The upper pH limit for activity was between 9.9 and 10.3, at Eh of -360 to -384 mV. The upper Eh limit for activity was between -68 and -3 mV, at pH 7.1. These results show that SRB can be made active at higher pH by decreasing Eh, and that the higher pH levels of 8 to 10 produced by use of the buffer material bentonite does not suppress SRB completely.
A chart was obtained showing the active range of Desulfovibrio desulfuricans in terms of pH and Eh. Such charts can be used to estimate the viability of SRB and other microorganisms when the environmental conditions of a repository are specified.