Analytical Instrumentation

Selection Guide for pH Analyzers in Process Applications

  • Choosing the appropriate pH analyzer is critical for accurate monitoring and management in industrial operations. 
  • The choice has an impact on measurement precision, data reliability, and overall process efficiency. 
  • A well-chosen pH analyzer provides peak performance, improves product quality, and reduces error risk, all of which contribute to the success and sustainability of a wide range of applications such as water treatment, chemical processing, and environmental research. 
  • It has a direct impact on the capacity to maintain appropriate pH levels, allowing organizations to meet regulatory requirements while maintaining the integrity of their processes.
  • Choosing the correct pH analyzer is critical for accurate measurements and reliable results. 
  • In the complex and changing environment of industrial processes, pH analyzers are critical to ensuring optimal performance and quality in a wide range of applications. 
  • This comprehensive guide is an essential resource for experienced instrumentation design specialists, providing comprehensive insight into the key parameters and considerations when choosing a pH analyzer (transmitter) adapted to specific process applications. 
  • This guide covers everything from pH transmitter types and operational requirements to performance parameters, body materials, and advanced features, ensuring that you make a decision.
Selection Guide for pH Analyzers in Process Applications 1
  • pH analyzers are available in various types, each employing different technologies. Discuss the differences between traditional glass electrode analyzers, combination pH sensors, and solid-state sensors. 
  • Explore advancements such as digital sensors and intelligent analyzers that offer enhanced accuracy, stability, and calibration features. 
  • Understanding the technology behind pH analyzers is crucial for selecting the most suitable option for a given application.
  • Loop pH powered transmitters are a reliable two-wire option that is commonly powered by either 24 VDC or 120/240 VAC. 
  • These transmitters have built-in preamplifiers that efficiently condition signals from pH sensors, producing an accurate 4-20 mA output. 
  • They are widely used in a variety of industries and provide a low-cost, reliable solution.
  • ISFET-based pH transmitters are remarkable for their responsiveness to hydrogen ion concentration changes. 
  • These transmitters have a design that allows less electrical current to travel through the transistor in reaction to pH variations, resulting in long-term sustainability and reliability. 
  • In harsh conditions, ISFET silicon chips outperformed typical glass pH electrodes, providing stability and an increased response rate. 
  • ISFET-based pH transmitters, which are widely used in the pharmaceutical and food processing industries, provide a durable solution that can be sterilized without risk of breakage.
  • Before getting into the selection process, it’s important to understand the fundamentals of pH measuring. 
  • The pH scale spans from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. Processes frequently require accurate pH values for highest possible operation. 
  • pH analyzers detect the concentration of hydrogen ions in a solution, indicating whether it is acidic or alkaline.
  • Power requirements, enclosure specs, input/output options, system compatibility, and display kinds must all be considered while making a product selection selection. 
  • Analog and digital communication methods have significant advantages, with digital protocols allowing for simultaneous transmission of additional measurements, which facilitates remote monitoring and configuration.
  • To ensure optimal performance, evaluate the pH transmitter’s range(0-14pH), resolution, and accuracy. 
  • The range establishes the saturation level, resolution indicates the level of detail in readings, and accuracy provides measurement reliability. 
  • The standard resolutions for transmitters are 0.01 pH, 0.1mV, 1mV, and 0.1°C for pH, mV, and temperature, respectively.
Selection Guide for pH Analyzers in Process Applications 2
  • The choice of body material is essential taking into account temperature, chemicals in the solution, and operating needs. 
  • Glass bodies are favorable in solutions that contain corrosive elements, but polymer bodies are preferred for applications that are sensitive to impact.
  • The compatibility between sensor body material and chemicals is critical for polymer-bodied electrodes. 
  • These electrodes should be avoided in solutions containing inorganic substances. Glass-bodied electrodes, on the other hand, excel in highly corrosive environments due to their inert nature.
  • The application decides whether single or double junction electrodes are used. 
  • Double conjunction electrodes provide additional defense against reference fouling in samples that contain proteins, heavy metals, sulfides, cyanides, or iodides.
Selection Guide for pH Analyzers in Process Applications 3
  • Sealed electrodes require less maintenance, but must be replaced when the gel reference solution is depleted. 
  • Refillable electrodes extend their life by allowing users to change the internal solution. 
  • Some research-grade substitutes include a flushable conjunction for rapid response to temperature changes.
  • For robust performance, opt for a flow-through/immersion assembly with a retractable arrangement, ensuring weatherproof and water-tight operation. 
  • This assembly should integrate a pH electrode, glass electrode, reference electrode, and a temperature sensor.
  • The pH electrode should be a glass membrane type with low potential drift, ensuring shockproof functionality and screened with metal foil for durability.
  • Select a diffusion-type reference electrode with a ceramic or porous PTFE diaphragm. 
  • The reference liquid should be KCL, and it should exhibit linearity concerning temperature changes.
  • Automatic temperature compensation is vital for accurate pH measurements. Ensure integration with a Pt 100 or Pt 1000 temperature sensor for precise readings in temperature-dependent pH measurements.
  • Electrodes are essential for detecting hydrogen ion concentration in solutions, which is most typically done with glass bulb electrodes. However, certain applications, such as food processing, avoid using glass electrodes. 
  • Non-glass alternatives exist, however they come at an added expense. When selecting a pH meter, consider the expense of electrode replacement, as well as their fragility. 
  • Some electrodes have non-clog tips, which is useful for testing the pH of unblended meals. 
  • Innovative choices, such as ‘Flat-Cell’ testers, are affordable, portable, and accurate. Consider these aspects while optimizing electrode sensitivity, particularly in situations where glass electrodes may not be practicable or cost-effective.
  • Temperature compensation is critical for reliable pH readings, especially in applications involving significant temperatures. 
  • A pH sensor with automatic temperature compensation corrects pH values for variations in solution temperature, reducing errors in pH corrections.
Selection Guide for pH Analyzers in Process Applications 4
  • Cables used to link the electrode and pH transmitter must be screened and have anti-noise sheaths. 
  • Using standard lengths, often around 10 meters, assures outstanding performance.
  • Choose a smart transmitter equipped with HART/FF protocol for advanced functionality. 
  • It should boast weatherproof performance with an IP-65 rating, ensuring suitability for tropical climates with high humidity.
  • Separate the electronics from the terminal compartment and ensure that the terminals are vibration-proof and adequate for 1.5 mm2 cables. 
  • The cable entry should be 1/2″ NPT (F), and the transmitter enclosure should have a minimum IP-65 waterproof grade level.
Selection Guide for pH Analyzers in Process Applications 4
  • Include complete mounting accessories made of suitable material for both sensors and transmitters. 
  • Consider a flow-through type assembly, Tee type 1″ flanged connection, and 1/2″ NPT (F) sensor connection with CPVC material.
  • Each Transmitter should have a nameplate firmly attached to it in an easily seen spot with the following information like  the instrument tag number,  manufacturer name, model number, and serial number. Calibrated Range Output: signal like mA
  • Thoroughly inspect vendors’ workshops or standard calibration labs, conducting visual and dimensional checks, calibration checks, and obtaining test certificates for accuracy, linearity, and repeatability.
  • The criteria listed above are basic and required for finalizing the pH analyzer.
  • Look for transmitters that provide assistance during buffer calibration and diagnostics for both the transmitter and its electrodes. This ensures accurate and reliable measurements, contributing to the longevity of the pH analyzer.
  • Evaluate the response time of the pH analyzer, especially in dynamic processes. 
  • Faster response times can be critical in applications where rapid changes in pH occur.
  • Select pH sensors with integrated temperature sensors for temperature compensation. 
  • This is particularly crucial for highly accurate pH measurements in applications with extreme temperatures, ensuring precision and reliability.
  • In applications where sensor fouling is a concern, consider pH analyzers with built-in or compatible cleaning mechanisms. This feature can help maintain accuracy over extended periods.
  • pH analyzers are used in a wide range of industries and processes, including neutralization systems, heavy metal recovery, plating control, scrubber control, pool and spa control, environmental studies, water treatment, water quality monitoring, waste treatment, and disinfection.
  • For seamless integration into existing industrial setups, pH analyzers should be compatible with process control systems. 
  • Explore communication protocols such as Modbus or Profibus, and discuss the importance of data logging and remote monitoring capabilities. 
  • Integration with distributed control systems (DCS) or programmable logic controllers (PLC) enhances overall process automation.
  • Regular calibration is vital for ensuring the accuracy of pH measurements. 
  • Discuss the calibration requirements of different pH analyzers, including the frequency and ease of calibration.
  • Additionally, highlight the importance of maintenance practices to ensure longevity and reliable performance. 
  • Some analyzers may offer self-diagnostic features or automatic calibration, simplifying the maintenance process.
  • Consider the ease of maintenance and availability of spare parts for the pH analyzer. Analyzers with modular designs or easily replaceable components can reduce downtime during maintenance.
  • Consider the user interface of the pH analyzer. A user-friendly interface with a clear display and intuitive controls can simplify operation and configuration.
  • Evaluate the environmental conditions in which the pH analyzer will operate. Ensure that it meets the required temperature, humidity, and pressure specifications for your specific industrial setting.
  • Verify that the pH analyzer meets industry standards and certifications relevant to your application. 
  • This could include certifications for hazardous area installations (ATEX, FM, CSA) or compliance with regulatory requirements in specific industries.

Below is a simplified selection checklist for pH analyzers in downloadable excel form. 

Selection Guide for pH Analyzers in Process Applications 5

This checklist can serve as a quick reference for instrumentation design specialists during the selection process:

The selection of a pH analyzer for process applications requires careful consideration of a variety of criteria, ranging from transmitter type and operating requirements to complex performance specifications, body materials, and advanced capabilities. This comprehensive document aims to provide instrumentation design specialists with the knowledge they need to make informed choices and achieve optimal performance in a variety of industrial circumstances. By focusing on these crucial characteristics, one may choose a pH analyzer that not only fits specific application needs but also improves efficiency and accuracy in critical processes, so contributing to the overall success of manufacturing operations.

Sundareswaran Iyalunaidu

With over 24 years of dedicated experience, I am a seasoned professional specializing in the commissioning, maintenance, and installation of Electrical, Instrumentation and Control systems. My expertise extends across a spectrum of industries, including Power stations, Oil and Gas, Aluminium, Utilities, Steel and Continuous process industries. Tweet me @sundareshinfohe

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