What is pH?
pH, commonly used for water measurements, is a measure of acidity and alkalinity, or the caustic and base present in a given solution. It is generally expressed with a numeric scale ranging from 0-14. The value 7 represents neutrality. The numbers on the scale increase with increasing alkalinity, while the numbers on the scale decrease with increasing acidity. Each unit of change represents a tenfold change in acidity or alkalinity. The pH value is also equal to the negative logarithm of the hydrogen-ion concentration or hydrogen-ion activity. pH values for some common solutions are listed in the table to the right.
|Gatorade (Lemon Lime)||2.93|
How is pH Measured?
Combination pH Sensors
When pH measurements are crucial for controlling processes, an electrochemical pH sensor is most commonly used. This sensor is typically a combination type, which contains both a measuring electrode and reference electrode. The measuring cell detects changes in the pH value while the reference provides a stable signal for comparison. A high impedance device, known as a pH meter, is used to display the millivolt signal in pH units.
Laboratory pH Sensors
Combination pH sensors in 12mm glass and plastic bodies are commonly referred to as laboratory style sensors. These sensors work well in light duty applications such as education and research, environmental sampling, and pool monitoring. While the basic design is the same, features like the sensor fill, junctions, and cables can be changed to fit different application needs.
Process pH Sensors
Combination pH sensors can also be built in larger, sturdier bodies with process connections (like NPT threads) built in. These sensors are commonly referred to as process pH sensors, and they are well-suited for continuous monitoring of pH. Process pH sensors are typically mounted in a pipe, submerged in a tank, or used as part of an insertion assembly.
Differential pH Sensors
Compared with a typical combination pH probe, differential pH sensors work slightly differently. While combination pH sensors have 2 electrodes, a measuring and a reference electrode, differential pH sensors have 3 electrodes. In the differential design, 2 electrodes measure pH differentially with respect to a third metal ground electrode. This design has the advantage of preventing reference fouling, making it ideal for industrial applications like wet scrubbers.
How are pH Measurements Used?
pH measurements are widely used to control processes, ensure product quality and safety.
- pH neutralization of effluent in industrial manufacturing environments
- Cooling tower and boiler control
- Environmental monitoring
- Odor scrubbers
- Food and beverage quality control and safety
- Upstream protection of filtration membranes
- Water pre-treatment for manufacturing processes
- Swimming pool control
- Pulp and paper manufacturing
- Pharmaceutical research & development and manufacturing
- Blood-gas analysis in medical devices
Custom pH Sensor Design and Manufacturing
In addition to our standard products, Sensorex designs and manufactures pH sensors for over 250 OEM partners. Whether you are looking to private label sensors and instrumentation or incorporate pH sensors as part of the design for your water treatment product, our team of engineers and application specialists can help you meet your goals. We provide custom branding on our standard products and can design custom pH sensors to meet various design specifications.