BART Test: Biological Activity Reaction Test.
What is the BART test
The bacteriological test, aka the BART test, is used to determine if your pipes have MIC.: Biological Activity Reaction Test.
In order to test a sprinkler system, you should take one or more water samples. These water samples are then cultured for 10 days! Another thing is that the culture you are observing is happening in an incubator that is required to have a consistent temperature of 21 degrees Celsius.
After this 10-day culture period, during which we take a picture of the 5 tubes every day, you will receive a detailed report from a laboratory, with the findings and a substantiated advice.
The water is tested for the presence of 5 separate main groups of MIC Bacteria, namely;
1 APB (Acid-producing bacteria)
2 IRB (Iron-related bacteria)
3 SRB (Sulphate reducing bacteria)
4 SLYM (Slime, film, thread forming bacteria)
5 HAB (Heterotrophics, hetertrophic bacteria)
The BART biodetector is a tool that helps identify process disruptors, such as sulphate-reducing bacteria (SRB). SRBs are strains of anaerobic and aerobic hydrogen sulphide generating bacteria.
How do I interpret the results of a BART test?
The results of a BART test will be given as a number from 0 to 3.
0- No bacteria present
1- Low level of bacteria present
2- Medium level of bacteria present
3- High level of bacteria present
What are the benefits of the BART test?
One of the main benefits of the BART test is that it can help you detect process disruptors early on, before they cause serious damage to your system. Another benefit is that the BART test is relatively simple, cheap and easy to use, compared to other methods of testing for MIC.
Limitations of the BART test
Culturing is not the best method
The BART test is a culture test kit and there is general scientific concensus that if you use culture kits as an indicator for Microbial Influenced Corrosion, that it comes with limitations. Only 1% of the microbial populations can be cultured. This means that if your system is infected with a high level of bacteria, you might not get an accurate indication of this using the BART test.
Figure 1: Source AMPP TM0212-2018
Examples of strains of bacteria and Archaea that are hard to be detected by culturing:
1 Methanogenic Archaea in general
2 AAB (anaerobic acid-producing bacteria)
3 H2S producing bacteria (e.g. Desulfovibrio desulfuricans)
4 Fermentative bacteria
6 Metallogenic bacteria
Another limitation is that you can only measure what is in the water at the moment of sampling and that it takes time for bacteria to develope and become active. So if your system has a high risk of MIC, sampling more often might be neccessary.
BART tests can give inconclusive results, due to a number of reasons; sampling errors, incubation temperature not being constant, human error when reading the results. False positives can also occur, for example due to contamination of the sample during sampling or incubation.
Not compliant to industry standards
The most relevant industry standards about MIC related testing are:
- AMPP TM0212-2018 (Method)
- AMPP TM0194 (Method)
- AMPP TM21495 (not public yet)
- ASTM D8412-21 (fuels)
- ISO 15589-1 (external)
- ISO/DIS 21809-11:2017(External)
The TM0194 is currently being revised. Both ISO standards are not prescriptive in the methods being used. Both the AMPP TM21495 and ASTM D8412-21 are prescriptive documents, to promote and standardize the use of molecular methods such as qPCR (quantitative polymerase chain reaction). qPCR is considered the current best method to detect and quantify microbes in water and oil samples. The BART test is not compliant to any of these standards.
What are alternatives to the BART test?
If you want to comply to industry standards, we recommend using a qPCR method (including internal controls) that is compliant to either of this industry standards. The DNA technique is another way to show the likelihood of MIC bacteria being present.
This determines whether certain MIC organisms are present and can indicate the probability of MIC.
You can use a cotton wool swabs to collect samples of DNA from corrosion spots. This test tell us which specific microorganisms are present by looking for genetic material that is unique to each microorganism. Usually this testing is done be a laboratory that has the proper equipement and expertise. Within Corronation we have moved away from BART testing and started to offer MTest qPCR. A field kit for the detection of MIC related genes.
With the MTest field kit, you need a starterkit, DNA isolation kits and primers. This is all supplied in packages with a long shelf life. An avarage BART test will cost you € 450. A measurement with the MTest qPCR kit will bring the costs down to € 420, if you include 3 different targets and an internal standard.
The Corrosion Alliance has reviewed the MTest qPCR product. You can watch their video after registration