You are on page 1of 13

Conductivity

Definition of Conductivity Conductivity is the ability of a material to conduct electric current. The principle by which instruments measure conductivity is simpletwo plates are placed in the sample, a potential is applied across the plates (normally a sine wave voltage), and the current that passes through the solution is measured. Conductivity (G), the inverse of resistivity (R), is determined from the voltage and current values according to Ohm's law.
G= 1 I (amps) = R E (volts)

Since the charge on ions in solution facillitates the conductance of electrical current, the conductivity of a solution is proportional to its ion concentration. In some situations, however, conductivity may not correlate directly to concentration. The graphs shown here illustrate the relationship between conductivity and ion concentration for two common solutions. Notice that the graph is linear for sodium chloride solution, but not for highly concentrated sulfuric acid. Ionic interactions can alter the linear relationship between conductivity and concentration in some highly concentrated solutions. Units of Measurement The basic unit of conductance is the siemen (S), formerly called the mho. Since cell geometry affects conductivity values, standardized measurements are expressed in specific conductivity units (S/cm) to compensate for variations in electrode dimensions. Specific conductivity (C) is simply the product of measured conductivity (G) and the electrode cell constant (L/A), where L is the length of the column of liquid between the electrodes and A is the area of the electrodes (see illustration).

C = G x (L/A) If the cell constant(K) is 1 cm-1, the specific conductivity is the same as the measured conductivity of the solution. If other cell constants are used, most meters will automatically compensate for the change in cell geometry. To save room, cm-1 is not shown when cell constants are listed. Although we specify conductivity ranges for our products in S or mS, due to space limitations these ranges should be understood to reflect specific conductivity in S/cm or mS/cm, respectively. 1 S/cm = 0.001 mS/cm = 0.000001 S/cm = 1 mho/cm The following table shows optimum conductivity ranges for cells of three different constants:
Optimum Conductivity Cell Range Constant(K) (S/cm) 0.1 0.5 to 400 1.0 10 to 2000 10.0 1000 to 200,000

Conductivity Meter Calibration and Cell Maintenance Conductivity meters and cells should be calibrated to a standard solution before using. Select a standard that is closest to the conductivity of the solution to be measured. Polarized or fouled electrodes must be replatinized or cleaned to renew active surface of the cell. In most situations, hot water with a mild liquid detergent is an effective cleanser. Acetone easily cleans most organic matter, and chlorous solutions will remove algae, bacteria, or molds. Do not use abrasives to clean an electrode. Replace this cell if all else fails. The conductivity of some common solutions is shown in the table below.
Solution Pure water Power plant boiler water Good city water Ocean water 31.0% HNO3 Conductivity 0.055 S/cm 1.0 S/cm 50 S/cm 53 mS/cm 865 mS/cm

Conversions:
Multiply to get S/cm mS/cm S/cm 1 1000 0.5 to get Divide mho/cm S/cm ppm

Conductivity Temperature Compensation Conductivity measurements are temperature dependent. The degree to which temperature affects conductivity varies from solution to solution and can be calculated using the following formula: Gt = Gtcal{1 + (t-tcal)} where: Gt = conductivity at any temperature t in C Gtcal = conductivity at calibration temperature tcal in C = temperature coefficient of solution at tcal in C Common alphas ( ) are listed in the table below. To determine the of other solutions, simply measure conductivity at a range of temperatures and graph the change in conductivity versus the change in temperature. Divide the slope of the graph by Gtcal to get .
Substance at 25C HCl KCl H2SO4 NaCl HF HNO3 Concentration 10 wt% 10 wt% 50 wt% 10 wt% 1.5 wt% 31 wt% Alpha ( ) 1.56 1.88 1.93 2.14 7.20 31.0

All meters in our catalog have either fixed or adjustable automatic temperature compensation referenced to a standard temperatureusually 25C. Most meters with fixed temperature compensation use an a of 2% per C (the approximate a of NaCl solutions at 25C). Meters with adjustable temperature compensation let you adjust the alpha factor to more closely match the alpha factor of your solution.

Conductivity Cells Most conductivity meters have a two-electrode cell (see illustration) available in either dip or flow-through styles. The electrode surface is usually platinum, titanium, gold-plated nickel, or graphite. Four-electrode cells use a reference voltage to compensate for any polarization or fouling of the electrode plates. The reference voltage ensures that measurements indicate actual conductivity independent of electrode condition, resulting in higher accuracy for measuring over wide ranges.

Important Features to Consider


y

Autoranging: Meter automatically selects the appropriate range for measurement. There is no need to change the dial, multiply values on the display, turn a potentiometer, or manually select a range. Temperature compensation: A cell with built-in temperature sensor allows the meter to make adjustments to the conductivity or TDS readings based on changes in solution temperature. TDS conversion factor: When a solution does not have a similar ionic content to natural water or salt water, then a TDS conversion factor is needed to automatically adjust the readings. Adjustable temperature coefficients: The TDS of certain samples, such as alcohols and pure water, are affected by changes in temperature. An adjustable temperature coefficient allows the user to compensate for temperature changes on the solution being measured. Adjustable cell constant: Adjusts the reading on the display to reflect use of a cell with a constant other than K=1.

Categories in Calibration Solutions and Accessories

Cole-Parmer Conductivity Solutions, NIST-Traceable Reference Material, Individually Tested Bottles Choose from our comprehensive line of Cole-Parmer Conductivity Solutions and other conductivity calibration solutions products.

Cole-Parmer Conductivity Solutions, NIST-Traceable Reference Materials Choose from our comprehensive line of Cole-Parmer Conductivity Solutions and other conductivity calibration solutions products.

Cole-Parmer One-Shot Conductivity Solutions, NIST-Traceable Reference Materials Choose from our comprehensive line of Cole-Parmer Conductivity Solutions and other conductivity calibration solution products.

Cole-Parmer Redi-Stor Conductivity Probe Storage Solution Choose from our comprehensive line of Cole-Parmer Redi-Stor Conductivity Probe Storage Solution and other Standard Solutions and Accessories for Conductivity Calibration products.

Conductivity Calibration Pouches Choose from our comprehensive line of Conductivity Calibration Pouches and other Standard Solutions and Accessories for Conductivity Calibration products. MYRON L Conductivity Calibration Solutions Choose from our comprehensive line of Myron L Conductivity Calibration Solutions and other Standard Solutions and Accessories for Conductivity Calibration products.

Oakton Conductivity Calibration Solutions Choose from our comprehensive line of Oakton Conductivity Calibration Solutions and other Standard Solutions and Accessories for Conductivity Calibration products.

Thermo Scientific Orion Conductivity Calibration Solutions Choose from our comprehensive line of Thermo Scientific Orion Conductivity Calibration Solutions and other Standard Solutions and Accessories for Conductivity Calibration products.

YSI Conductivity Calibration Solutions Choose from our comprehensive line of YSI Conductivity Calibration Solutions and other Standard Solutions and Accessories for Conductivity Calibration products.

Categories in Conductivity/Resistivity/TDS Process Instruments

+GF+ Signet Dual-Channel Conductivity/Resistivity Controllers +GF+ Signet DualChannel Conductivity/Resistivity Controller for Food Processing and other Process Control are available to order online. Click any Conductivity Control category to view all models. +GF+ Signet Single-Channel Conductivity/Resistivity Transmitters +GF+ Signet SingleChannel Conductivity/Resistivity Transmitters for Food Processing and other Process Control are available to order online. Click any Conductivity Control category to view all models.

Cole-Parmer SenFlow Disposable In-Line Conductivity Sensor System Choose from our comprehensive line of Cole-Parmer SenFlow Disposable In-Line Conductivity Sensor System and other Cole-Parmer SenFlow Disposable In-Line Conductivity and Pressure Sensor Systems products. Conductivity Controller Choose from our comprehensive line of Conductivity Controller and other Multi-Range Pocket Balances products. Eutech Instruments COND 1000 1/4-DIN, On/Off Conductivity and Resistivity Controllers Eutech Instruments CON 1000 1/4-DIN Conductivity and Resistivity Controllers for Food Processing and other Process Control are available to order online. Click any Conductivity Control category to view all models. Eutech Instruments COND 190 Conductivity and TDS 190 Total Dissolved Solids 1/8-DIN Controllers Choose from our comprehensive line of Eutech Instruments COND 190 Conductivity and TDS 190 Total Dissolved Solids 1/8-DIN Controllers and other Eutech Instruments Conductivity Transmitters and Controllers products. Eutech Instruments COND 200 1/8-DIN Economical Conductivity Controller Eutech Instruments CON 200 1/8-DIN Economical Conductivity Controller for Food Processing and other Process Control are available to order online. Click any Conductivity Control category to view all models. Eutech Instruments COND 2000 Advanced 1/4 and 1/2-DIN Conductivity Controllers Eutech Instruments CON 2000 Advanced 1/2 DIN Conductivity Controller/Transmitter for Food Processing and other Process Control are available to order online. Click any Conductivity Control category to view all models. Eutech Instruments COND 500 Industrial Conductivity Transmitter with Display Eutech Instruments CON 500 Industrial Conductivity Transmitter with Display for Food Processing and other Process Control are available to order online. Click any Conductivity Control category to view all models. Eutech Instruments COND 550 Monitor and 560 Conductivity Controller Eutech Instruments CON 550 and 560 Monitors for Food Processing and other Process Control are available to order online. Click any Conductivity Control category to view all models.

Eutech Instruments TDS 200 1/8-DIN Economical TDS Controller Eutech Instruments TDS 200 1/8-DIN Economical TDS Controller for Food Processing and other Process Control are available to order online. Click any Conductivity Control category to view all models. GLI Contacting Conductivity Controllers and Transmitters Contacting conductivity/resistivity/TDS analyzers and transmitters are designed for ultrapure water, sanitary, boiler/condensate, and general-purpose applications. GLI Electrodeless Conductivity/TDS Analyzers and Transmitter GLI Electrodeless Conductivity/TDS Analyzers and Transmitter for Process Control and other Conductivity Control are available to order online. Click any GLI 1/4- and 1/2-DIN Conductivity/Resistivity Analyzers category to view all models. Myron L Cooling Tower/Chemical Treatment Controllers Choose from our comprehensive line of Myron L Cooling Tower Controllers and other Conductivity Control products.

Myron L Digital Conductivity/TDS Controllers Myron L Controllers with Digital Display for Conductivity Control and other Myron L 1/4 DIN Resistivity and Conductivity/TDS Monitors/Controllers are available to order online. Click any Conductivity/TDS Monitor/Controllers category to view all models. Myron L Digital Resistivity Controllers Resistivity Monitor/Controllers for Process Control and other Conductivity Control are available to order online. Click any Myron L 1/4 DIN Resistivity and Conductivity/TDS Monitors/Controllers category to view all models.

Conductivity FAQs

1. What am I measuring when I measure the conductivity of my solution?

2. How does temperature affect conductivity readings? 3. Can conductivity be measured in aqueous solutions only? 4. How are conductivity and conductance related? 5. What is a cell constant and why are there different ones? 6. How are conductivity and TDS related? 7. How do I calibrate my meter for TDS if my dissolved solids are not the same as those in the calibration solution that is sold in the Cole-Parmer catalog? 8. The standardization solution I purchased has three values listed on it. Which one should I use? 9. What is the difference between micromhos and microsiemens? 10. How do I clean my electrode? 11. How often do platinum probes need to be replatinized? 12. How should I store my conductivity electrode? 13. How do I condition a probe?

14. What is the difference between conductivity and salinity? 15. How far can the probe be from the meter? 16. Is there an expiration date on the standardizing solutions? 17. Are conductivity probes interchangeable with meters? 18. How and when do I need to calibrate the probe? 19. How do I find the correct temperature coefficient when not working with water? 1. What am I measuring when I measure the conductivity of my solution? Conductivity is the measurement of the electrolytes in a solution. It is defined as the conductance in a given volume. Conductance is the ability of the solution to conduct electric current. Go to Top 2. How does temperature affect conductivity readings? The effect of temperature on conductivity readings depends on the solution being measured. The effect is greatest in low ionic strength (low conductivity) solutions. A general rule to follow is there will be a 2% change (increase)/degree C. This rule can be followed for most aqueous solutions, however if you require a high degree of accuracy, you should consult a chart for the particular solution you are measuring. Organics also have very different temperature curves. Go to Top 3. Can conductivity be measured in aqueous solutions only? No, all substances possess some conductive properties. Generally organic compounds (such as benzene, alcohols, and petroleum products) have very low conductivities, while metals have very high conductivities. Measuring the conductivity of highly flammable liquids is very risky. Go to Top 4. How are conductivity and conductance related?

Conductance is the ability of a solution to conduct electric current, while conductivity is the conductance in a given volume (usually measured in umho/cm). Go to Top 5. What is a cell constant and why are there different ones? The cell constant, K, is equal to the area normal to the current flow in centimeters squared divided by the length in centimeters between the electrodes. For solutions with low conductivities the electrodes can be placed closer together or made smaller so that the cell constant is less than one. This has the effect of raising the conductance so as to produce a value more easily interpreted by the meter. The converse also applies, in high conductivity solutions, the electrodes are placed farther apart or made larger. Different cell constants are used as range multipliers. Go to Top 6. How are conductivity and TDS related? Salts, minerals, and even dissolved gases contribute uniformly to the conductivity of a solution. This means that the conductivity can be used as an indicator of the amount of dissolved materials in a solution. TDS can be used fairly accurately when comparing the status of a single source, such as NaCl, but error can arise when trying to compare two different types of solutions. It is necessary to calibrate the meter using the same dissolved materials that are in the test solution. Go to Top 7. How do I calibrate my meter for TDS if my dissolved solids are not the same as those in the calibration solutions sold in the Cole-Parmer catalog? Making your own standard will yield the most accurate results. This is done by formulating a mixture of salts in relative proportions that simulate the solution to be tested, then dissolving the mixture into distilled water. This should be done according to the following formula: 1 mg salt mixture/liter of distilled water = 1 ppm TDS, or in other words, X ppm TDS = X mg of salts + one liter of distilled water. Remember that "X mg of salts" is the number of milligrams of a mixture of salt of which proportions simulate your test solution, not X milligrams of each salt in the

mixture. An appropriate value for "X" is determined by the following rule: Choose a ppm value for a calibrated solution as close as possible to the expected ppm values of the test solutions. If the ppm content of the test solution is expected to vary a great deal, it is best to choose a ppm value for the calibrated solution in the upper 1/3 of the TDS indicator's measurement range. Go to Top 8. The standardization solution I purchased has three values listed on it. Which one should I use? This depends on what you are measuring. If it is conductivity, use the value with the units of micromhos or microsiemens. If it is TDS, use the one labeled ppm/NaCl if you are measuring the TDS of a sodium chloride solution. If you are measuring natural water, use the 442 formulation (442 is 40% sodium sulfate, 40% sodium bicarbonate, and 20% sodium chloride). Whichever you choose, you are referencing your solution to that standard. Go to Top 9. What is the difference between micromhos and microsiemens? There is no difference. Micromhos is more common in the U.S., while microsiemens is more common in Europe. Go to Top 10. How do I clean my electrode? Clean cells with mild liquid detergent and/or dilute nitric acid (1% wt) by dipping or filling the cell with solution and agitating for 2 to 3 minutes. Dilute HCl (hydrochloric acid) or H2SO4 (sulfuric acid) may also be used. When stronger cleaning is needed, try concentrated HCl mixed into 50% isopropanol (rubbing alcohol). Rinse the cell several times with distilled or deionized water and recalibrate before use. Go to Top 11. How often do platinum probes need to be replatinized? Some platinum electrodes are coated with platinum black before calibration. This coating is extremely important to cell operation, especially in solutions of high conductivity. Electrodes are platinized to avoid errors due to polarization. Polarization

is a condition in which conductivity plates are screened by ions in the solution, leading to inaccurate readings. Cells should be inspected periodically and after each cleaning. If the platinum black coating appears to be wearing or flaking off the electrode, the cell should be replatinized. It is recommended to replatinize the electrode approximately every six months. Go to Top 12. How should I store my conductivity electrode? Rinse it in tap water when you are finished using it. You can store your electrode either wet or dry. If it is stored dry you will need to recondition the electrode before use. Go to Top 13. How do I condition a probe? Place the probe in a standard solution or tap water and have power running to the probe. Let the probe soak for 30 minutes to 1 hour unless otherwise specified. Go to Top 14. What is the difference between conductivity and salinity? The probe is the same for conductivity and salinity, but in a salinity meter a correction factor is applied to the reading. The correction factor takes the conductivity reading and converts it to ppm of a specific salt. The salt varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some use NaCl while others use CaCO3. Go to Top 15. How far can the probe be from the meter? Generally the probe can be about 200 feet from the meter. The meter sends a small AC voltage signal to the probe. Go to Top 16. Is there an expiration date on the standardizing solutions? Unopened with an unbroken seal, the solution will last one year. Opened, but placed in an airtight container, the solution will last six months. Opened and exposed to air,

the solution will last one day. Note: Standards below 100 uS will degrade at a faster rate than others due to air. The conductivity of air is approximately 120 uS; any standard lower than 120 uS will slowly rise in conductivity until it reaches a state of equilibrium. Evaporation drastically increases conductivity values. Go to Top 17. Are conductivity probes interchangeable with meters? No, you cannot place one manufacturer's probe on another manufacturer's meter. The cell constant may be different and the pin configurations are usually different. The type of thermistor used for temperature compensation is usually different also. The cell constant is not a big problem, but not matching the pin configuration and temperature compensating element used would be a problem. Go to Top 18. How and when do I need to calibrate the probe? Calibrate using a standard solution in the range of the samples you are testing. Place the probe in standard solution, condition, rinse probe in second sample of standard solution, use a third sample of standard solution to calibrate, and then adjust the cell constant until the specified value is displayed. Recalibrate when you change ranges, or if readings seem to be incorrect. Go to Top 19. How do I find the correct temperature coefficient when not working with water? For water, the correction factor is 2% change per degree C. Check the conductivity of the sample at 25C, then using the same sample, find the conductivity at another temperature to see what the percent change is. This will give you the temperature correction factor.

Conductivity Values S/cm at 77F (25C)


% Weight 0.0001 0.0003 0.001 0.003 0.01 0.03 0.1 0.3 1.0 3.0 5.0 10.0 20.0 30.0 40.0 50.0 75.0 100.0 ppm mg/l 1 3 10 30 100 300 1000 3000 10,000 NaCl 2.2 6.5 21.4 64 210 617 1990 5690 17,600 48,600 78,300 140,000 226,000 Saturated Saturated Saturated Saturated Saturated NaOH 6.2 18.4 61.1 182 603 1780 5820 16,900 53,200 144,000 223,000 358,000 414,000 292,000 191,000 150,000 Saturated Saturated HCl 11.7 35.0 116 340 1140 3390 11,100 32,200 103,000 283,000 432,000 709,000 850,000 732,000 Saturated Saturated Saturated Saturated Acetic acid 4.2 7.4 15.5 30.6 63 114 209 368 640 1120 1230 1530 1600 1405 1080 740 168 <1