Basics of water analysis

The pH Value

The pH value is a logarithmic measure for the concentration of the H ions in a hydrous solution and indicates, by a numerical value, whether the solution has an acid, neutral or alkaline reaction.

The pH scale ranges from pH0 to pH14, pH7 is neutral.
The further the pH value deviates from 7, the more aggressive the sample is. The acidic or alkaline effect will increase by the factor 10 per pH unit.The illustration shows some examples for pH values of typical substances.

The Redox Potential

The level of the Redox potential (measured in mV) indicates the strength of an oxidising or reducing reaction of a measuring solution. A negative voltage value means that the solution has reducing properties compared to a standard hydrogen electrode. A positive value indicates that the solution has an oxidising effect.

As the extermination of microorganisms (disinfection) is directly related to the strength of the oxidation (e.g. of chlorine) the Redox potential is successfully being used for monitoring disinfection processes, e.g. in swimming baths. However, redox measurements are also performed for controlling the denitrification of waste waters (redox break point determination) at the detoxification in galvanic plants and for monitoring multiple chemical processes (e.g. cyanide oxidation or chromate reduction).

pH and Redox Measurement

By using reference solutions the calibration of pH and redox probes can be started with the push of a button. As the adjustment is stored in the ALMEMO® connector, the probe can also be used with other devices. If ALMEMO® devices with several input sockets are used, it is even possible to connect more probes with individual adjustments.

The calculation of the pH value is based on the electrode steepness at 25°C. If the temperature of the measuring medium largely deviates from the reference temperature, it is possible for all ALMEMO® devices to perform a temperature compensation.

The Electrical Conductivity

The conductivity (unit S/m = Siemens/meter) is a measure for the ion concentration in a measuring solution.
It is proportional to the salt, acid or base content in the measuring solution. High-purity waters have a conductivity of approx. 0.05µS/cm (at 25°C), natural waters approx. 100 to 1000µS/m, some bases (e.g. potassium hydroxide solutions) up to slightly more than 1000mS/cm.

The diagram shows further examples of hydrous solutions relevant for measurements.
In practice, the conductivity measurement is used for monitoring plants, for producing of high-purity waters or for determining the salinity of sea water.

Solute Oxygen

Oxygen is not only a component of the air but it is also contained dissolved in water and, practically, in every liquid. For example, water contains approximately 9mg/l oxygen in saturated compound at a temperature of 20°C and an atmospheric pressure of 1019mbar.

Every liquid accepts as much oxygen until the oxygen partial vapour pressure in the liquid is in a balance with the ´contacting´ air or gas phase. The saturation state (air-saturated water) is reached when the partial pressure of the physically dissolved oxygen in the liquid equals the partial pressure of the oxygen in the air.

The current oxygen concentration increases with atmospheric pressures and with decreasing temperatures. Relevant for metrology are processes, such as the oxygen consumption involved with microbiological decomposition processes or an oxygen production, e.g. due to the growth of algae.

The oxygen concentration is very important for animals and organisms living in water and for the biological treatment of municipal and industrial waste water. Additionally, corrosion processes in lines and keeping the quality of beverages depend on the solute oxygen in the liquid.

This is only possible with ALMEMO® Devices

Through the complete electrical isolation of the measuring inputs it is possible to use only one single ALMEMO® device to simultaneously measure various chemical variables, and use several probes in one sampling vessel without having any mutual influences of the probes! Through pre-programmed ALMEMO® connectors it is possible to connect any environmental sensor technology.