Phosphine by bio-corrosion of phosphide-rich iron

  • Dietmar Glindemann
  • Frank Eismann
  • Armin Bergmann
  • Peter Kuschk
  • Ulrich Stottmeister
Research Articles


Phosphine is a toxic agent and part of the phosphorus cycle. A hitherto unknown formation mechanism for phosphine in the environment was investigated. When iron samples containing iron phosphide were incubated in corrosive aquatic media affected by microbial metabolites, phosphine was liberated and measured by gas chromatography. Iron liberates phosphine especially in anoxic aquatic media under the influence of sulfide and an acidic pH. A phosphine-forming mechanism is suggested: Phosphate, an impurity of iron containing minerals, is reduced abioticly to iron phosphide. When iron is exposed to the environment (e.g. as outdoor equipment, scrap, contamination in iron milled food or as iron meteorites) and corrodes, the iron phosphide present in the iron is suspended in the medium and can hydrolyze to phosphine. Phosphine can accumulate to measurable quantities in anoxic microbial media, accelerating corrosion and preserving the phosphine formed from oxidation.


Abiotic corrosion of iron anaerobic media anoxic corrosion of iron bio-corrosion biogas corrosion of phosphide-rich iron corrosive aquatic media environment, phosphine formation Desulfovibrio desulfuricans fermentation food fumigation intestinal tract iron iron-phosphide landfills manure microbial phosphate reduction microorganisms phosphine formation phosphorus cycle in the environment sediments sewage sludge soils sulfide 


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Copyright information

© Ecomed Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dietmar Glindemann
    • 1
  • Frank Eismann
    • 1
  • Armin Bergmann
    • 1
  • Peter Kuschk
    • 2
  • Ulrich Stottmeister
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Animal Hygiene and Veterinary Public HealthUniv. of LeipzigLeipzigGermany
  2. 2.Centre for Environmental Research Leipzig-Halle Ltd.Leipzig

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