Micro-organisms (commonly called microbes or bugs) are all around us in the air, on the ground, in fact everywhere you look. They are believed to be the first life forms to colonise our planet, so starting the evolutionary journey to where we are today. They are still the bedrock of the food chain, providing sustenance for a host of other creatures, whilst adapting to take advantage of every available source of energy, no matter how seemingly inhospitable the environment is. All they need is moisture to give them a kick start.
It’s no surprise that microbes have adapted to consume our primary sources of energy i.e. fossil (hydrocarbon) fuels. Though individuals are largely invisible to the naked eye, they are however a force to be reckoned with. Once adapted to local conditions, like the inside of a tank they rapidly reproduce to form expanding colonies (biomass). These colonies continue to expand until the food and/or moisture runs out with growth accelerated by heat and humidity. While some find it astonishing, microbes are always present in fuel. Microbial contamination can be defined as the state where microbes (the bugs) are present in sufficient quantities to adversely affect the use of the fuel or degrade its quality.