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Author: Subject: glass eating microbes
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[*] posted on 10-2-2016 at 11:02
glass eating microbes

I did a search for glass eating microbes. No joy. I left some glassware soaking in soapy water a few years back and have some etched glassware as the result. I assume some kind of fungus started eating the glass etching it. This could be a useful bug if one could isolate it. Beats hell out of working with HF or sandblasting. I'm not well versed in microbiology and would appreciate some input on this.

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[*] posted on 10-2-2016 at 11:17

Dont think they exist.

Some plants and diatoms use silica compounds as part of there cel wall, but there is no energy to be gained by breaking down silicon dioixde.

What you probably have observed is something I see a lot in lab. Really clean glass looks worse than kinda clean glass, because all the imperfections are visible.

Or if it was cheap glass it could be solubles leaching out.
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[*] posted on 10-2-2016 at 11:29

Biodeterioration of glass is definitely real. The microbes aren't "eating it" for fuel, but they might be consuming for its silica (a structural material used by microbes), or the deterioration could be simply incidental to their metabolic activity (they produce substances that etch glass). Fungi and cyanobacteria are known to do this.

That doesn't mean that is what happened in this case, of course.

Fungi/bacteria communities are well known to "eat" rocks (lichens).
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[*] posted on 10-2-2016 at 16:14

Maybe the solution they were soaking in was more basic then you accounted for.
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[*] posted on 11-2-2016 at 01:28

Microbes are showing up in the strangest places, feasting on the strangest substances.
I can think of such Microbes, because I´ve found once a contamination of petrol eating mushroom in the paraffin oil under which I stored sodium metal.
That fungus caused the oil to become of a jelly like appearance.
I would not be surprised if it indeed were some Microbes causing that problem with his glass.
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PHILOU Zrealone
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[*] posted on 11-2-2016 at 05:43

Except from bacterial or microorganism growing causes...

Soaps are often made by mixing NaOH or Na2CO3 to natural oils (for example triglycerides); the residue of those 2 (known glass etchers) induce some basicity...

--> Many basic materials are caustic/corrosive to glass...deliquescent NaOH, KOH and CaO but also other like concentrated N2H4!

So if dilluted, enough soaking time will lead to corrosion!

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[*] posted on 27-11-2016 at 09:41

I don't know if these microbes could be the culprits, though I simply don't have the microbiology knowledge

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[*] posted on 28-11-2016 at 05:51

There's a nice page about them here -

I do find them from time to time when I'm servicing microscopes. I do wonder if it's just the coatings getting attacked. If I get a 'nice' one I must remember to put it aside.

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