Modeling MIC copper release from drinking water pipes (2014)


Modeling MIC copper release from drinking water pipes

Publication Type

Journal Article

Year of Publication



Gonzalo E. Pizarro, Ignacio T. Vargas, Pablo A. Pastén, Gustavo R. Calle

Journal Title



Copper; MIC; Biofilm modeling; Hydrodynamics; Cellular automata


Copper is used for household drinking water distribution systems given its physical and chemical properties that make it resistant to corrosion. However, there is evidence that, under certain conditions, it can corrode and release unsafe concentrations of copper to the water. Research on drinking water copper pipes has developed conceptual models that include several physical–chemical mechanisms. Nevertheless, there is still a necessity for the development of mathematical models of this phenomenon, which consider the interaction among physical–chemical processes at different spatial scales. We developed a conceptual and a mathematical model that reproduces the main processes in copper release from copper pipes subject to stagnation and flow cycles, and corrosion is associated with biofilm growth on the surface of the pipes. We discuss the influence of the reactive surface and the copper release curves observed. The modeling and experimental observations indicated that after 10 h stagnation, the main concentration of copper is located close to the surface of the pipe. This copper is associated with the reactive surface, which acts as a reservoir of labile copper. Thus, for pipes with the presence of biofilm the complexation of copper with the biomass and the hydrodynamics are the main mechanisms for copper release.



Corresponding Author

Gonzalo Pizarro, Email:

Line (s) of Research

Critical Resources