April 28th, 2023

Tree of life

All Organisms Share Common Characteristics

In last month’s column, I wrote about what microbes are, where they are found, and why everyone should have some understanding of the microbial world. In this article, I will provide a superficial overview of how microbes live. I’ll start with a summary of the common characteristics of all living things. As illustrated in Figure 1, all life forms share at least six common properties (variations of this list that include…


March 7th, 2023

Microorganisms – a) virus; b) bacteria; c) archaea; d) yeast; d) mold.

Each year, on the first morning of STLE’s Metalworking Fluid Management Certificate Training Course, I ask attendees about their backgrounds. Invariably, the majority have at least undergraduate degrees in chemistry, engineering, or chemical engineering. However, of the more than 600 people who have taken the course since 2004, fewer than 50 have had a microbiology course.

Globally, biodeterioration –…


January 12th, 2023

Leaking underground storage tank. Microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC) created numerous holes in this home heating oil fuel tank.

AMPP (formerly NACE) and ASTM define corrosion as “the deterioration of a material, usually a metal, that results from a chemical or electrochemical reaction with its environment” (ASTM Terminology G193). AMPP defines microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC) as “corrosion affected by the presence or activity, or both, of…


November 3rd, 2022

Bottom sample from ultra-low-sulfur diesel tank showing hazy fuel over bottoms-water loaded with suspended solids.

Opportunity Cost

In two previous articles, I’ve discussed the opportunity costs associated with premature filter plugging (see November 2016 and February 2019). My November 2016 article focused on the disconnect between operator awareness and the actual incidence of substantial contamination in underground storage tanks (UST) and fuel transfer equipment between…


October 4th, 2022

International Association for Stability, Handling and Use of Liquid Fuels (IASH)

IASH was founded in 1983 when Nahum Por, a chemist at Oil Refineries Ltd., Haifa, Israel, obtained support from the Israel Institute of Petroleum & Research to sponsor a conference to discuss issues related to the stability and handling of liquid fuels. The focus was on fuels and crude oil stored as strategic reserves. Between 1983 and 2003, IASH met triennially – venues alternating between Western…



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