Definition of Conductivity
Electrolytic conductivity, abbreviated as EC, is a measurement made in which electrical charges on atomic or larger sized particles in a medium are moved under the influence of a potential difference.EC is a measure of concentration however it is non-specific for ion type. An ion is a charged particle present in the solution that contributes to the current flow. Ions are formed when a salt such as sodium chloride is dissolved in water to form particles having electrical charges. Sodium chloride for example, separates into Na+ and Cl¯. This is a simplified definition for the measurement is affected by many things such as the type of ionic compound(s) dissolved in the water; the ions mobility, the solution viscosity, temperature as well as concentration.
Electrical conductance, the ability of a substance to conduct an electrical current is the reciprocal of electrical resistance. “Conductance” and “resistance” depend on the geometrical dimensions of the substance being measured. Conductivity and resistivity are “normalized” terms that are used to denote a bulk intrinsic property of a substance. This is the measurement a standardized EC probe on a conductivity or resistivity meter provides. Conductivity measurements can be used to provide additional industry specific measurements; TDS, Salinity and USP compliant conductivity. Many of Hanna’s meters provide these measurements also.
Units of Measurement
Electrical Resistivity ρ (Greek rho), also called Specific Resistance (1cm cube) uses units of Ohm.cm. For example, ultrapure water is said to have a value of 18.16 Mohm.cm. at 25°C.
Electrical Conductivity σ (Greek sigma and other symbols used also, is the reciprocal of resistivity and uses units of Siemens/cm (S/cm, mS/cm, μS/cm, dS/m). For example, ultrapure water is said to have a conductivity of: .055μS/cm at 25°C.
The IUPAC convension
1000 microSiemens/cm (μS/cm) = 1.0 milliSiemen/cm (mS/cm).
Note: Prior to 1971 mho/cm was the unit used for conductivity.This unit can still be found in some older literature.
Conductivity versus Resistivity
Although conductivity and resistivity are reciprocal units that may be converted easily, convention uses resistivity for very low electrolyte concentrations or trace contaminants i.e. ultrapure water, and conductivity for expressing meaningful salt levels i.e. seawater; electroplating baths, acid concentrations. Electrode style and measurement techniques also contribute to success in making conductivity or resistivity measurements reliably. Conductivity measurements can be used to provide useful industry specific measurements such as TDS, Salinity and USP compliant conductivity and many of Hanna’s conductivity meters provide the computing power to provide these measurements automatically.
TDS (total dissolved solids), is a method used to determine solid content in a solution. To determine TDS, the solution whose volume is known is evaporated and the residue weighed. A conductivity measurement is commonly used to estimate TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) based on the assumption the solids are predominately ionic in nature and the relationship between the dissolved ions and conductivity is known.TDS uses units of mg/L (ppm), or g/L.On some meters the user can input the TDS factor for the conversion. On more basic units the factor is automatically set to 0.50 A typical
TDS factor for strong ionic solutions is 0.5, while for weak ionic solutions (e.g.fertilizers) is 0.7.
TDS = factor x EC₂₅
For example: 100μS/cm conductivity is a TDS of 50ppm when the factor is 0.5.
Conductivity measurements can be used for determining salinity as it relates to general oceanographic
use. Three measurement scales are in use and depending on the sophistication of the meter, are available for salinity measurement in Seawater. The 3 scales are Practical Salinity Scale (PSU); 1978, Percent Scale (%);and Natural Seawater Scale(g/L); 1966.
Practical salinity and the Natural Seawater require a conductivity calibration. The meters have the algorithms to convert the measurement to the desired scale. NaCl % requires a calibration in HI70371 standard. Portable meters with this measurement make it easy to measure salinity in salt water aquariums and brackish waters.
Conductivity and Temperature
Conductivity changes with ion concentration and with temperature. For example, a standard potassium chloride solution used for calibration of a cell constant and conductivity bridge, changes conductivity as tabulated at right.
Having two variables changing would make it near impossible to take useful conductivity measurements. If the temperature was held constant, the conductivity measurement would only have the variable of ion concentration. Absolute conductivity is a conductivity measurement without temperature compensation. If the conductivity change with temperature change of a solution is a known characteristic, the Conductivity measurements can be corrected to a reference temperature (typically 20 or 25°C) by carefully measuring the solution temperature. Fortunately, Hanna EC sensors incorporate an integral temperature sensor to measure solution temperature. Compensation corrects the measured conductivity to a reference temperature by applying a fixed factor β for linear compensation. High end meters allow adjustment of β to compensate for various solutions and permit adjustment of a reference temperature over a wider range of temperatures. β for neutral salts is typically between 1.5 to 2.2%/°C.
EC₂₅= ECx (1+ β₂₅ (Tx—25))
(USP) United States Pharmacopeia Compliant Conductivity
Conductivity measurements are used for the preparation of pharmaceutical water for injection (WFI) worldwide. Hanna EC probes and meters can permit you to meet USP<645> Water Conductivity Requirements and European Pharmacopoeia 2.2.38 Conductivity Test for USP & EP Purified Water and Water for Injection.USP<645> with three stage compliance uses conductivity as a basis of ionic contaminants. Factors such as accuracy, resolution, cell constant certainty and ability to measure absolute conductivity are required. Stage 1 uses in-line conductivity measurements for compliance and a temperature/conductivity limit for compliance. Water that does not pass the Stage 1 limits must then be tested to Stage 2 requirements. This is a laboratory based technique that is streamlined using our meters with USP application firmware. They offer programmable set points to exceed the minimum meet USP and EP requirements and prompts to guide the technician. Water that does not pass at Stage 2 must be tested for pH.
Using Hanna conductivity will help to meet the goals of the USP Purified Water and WFI requirements that include improved water quality, improved equipment reliability and reduction in the number of required tests.
Conductivity standards are salt solutions for which the conductivity and temperature dependence are known. A well-defined relationship between Potassium Chloride concentration and electrolytic conductivity exists so KCl solutions are typically used as standards. A standard is used to determine the cell constant, in theory a defined geometric constant volume. Standards of 84 μS/cm, 1413 μS/cm, 5.00 mS/cm, or 12.88 mS/cm, 80 mS/cm and 111.8 mS/cm are manufactured by Hanna. Calibration is conducted with a value close to the samples conductivity. If the exact cell constant is known, some meters permit the manual input of the factor. This ensures maximum flexibility and measurement accuracy. Our research grade bench meters allow several points values to be calibrated for improved accuracy over a wider measurement range.
Types of Conductivity
Three types of conductivity probes are manufactured by Hanna, the simplest design is a 2-Electrode Probe that utilizes an amperometric approach to make the measurement; a known AC voltage is applied at a specific frequency between a pair of electrodes in solution. The current produced is measured and reported in conductivity units referenced to a calibrated standard. Electrodes are made of graphite or metal. Fouling due mineral deposits and polarization at high concentration are drawbacks of this technology. Two electrodes probes are best used in clean water applications when conductivities remain less than 5 mS/cm.
Four electrode conductivity (four-ring conductivity) utilizes a potentionmetric approach to make the measurement; an alternating current is applied to the outer two “drive”electrodes to induce a current in the solution. The voltage is measured between the inner pair of electrodes in solution. The voltage is proportional the conductivity This technology extends the linear range of measurement over three decades. Electrodes are made of graphite, stainless steel or Platinum. Polarization effects are reduced.
Both two and four electrode probes may incorporate a outer sleeve over the cell channel. The sleeve must stay in place during the measurement as this defines the volume of solution measured and the cell factor of the probe.
The third type of conductivity probe manufactured by Hanna is often found in industrial processes connected to a controller. An Inductive, Electrodeless or Toroidal conductivity probe uses two or more toroidal transformers which are inductively coupled side by side and encased in an inert plastic sheath. By applying a high frequency voltage to the drive toroid, a magnetic field develops that induces a current in the surrounding solution. A receiver toroid on the other side of the sensor measures the strength of the induced current. The strength depends on the conductivity of the solution. The benefits of this technology are no polarization effects, choice of material encapsulation can produce chemical resistant and relative immunity to fouling, and solutions are not needed for calibration.