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Measurement of pH in Water

The term “pH” refers to the measurement of hydrogen ion activity in the solution.

The pH is a measure of an aqueous solution’s acidity or alkalinity. This is dependent on the comparative number of hydrogen ions (H+) or hydroxyl ions (OH-) in the solution.

An acidic solution contains a higher relative number of hydrogen ions; conversely, alkaline solutions have a higher relative number of OH- ions.

Pure water that contains an equal balance of positive hydrogen ions (H+) and negative hydroxide ions (OH-) has a neutral pH.

  • Solutions with a higher concentration of hydrogen ions (H+) than pure water are acidic and have a pH less than 7.

  • Solutions with a higher concentration of hydroxide ions (OH-) than water are basic (alkaline) and have a pH greater than 7.

pH measurement plays an important role in wastewater treatment & its purification processes be it physical / chemical or biological:-

· A change in the pH level of water can alter the behaviour of chemicals in the water. Accumulation of toxic chemicals and increasing alkalinity levels are common problems in wastewater

· pH affects product quality and consumer safety. Changes in pH can alter flavour, colour, shelf-life, product stability and acid content.

· Inadequate pH of tap water can cause corrosion in the distribution system and can allow harmful heavy metals to leach out.

· Managing industrial water pH environments helps prevent corrosion and damage to equipment.

· In natural environments, pH can affect plants and animals.

pH plays vital role in following industries

a) Food Industry :-

In the food industry, pH is principally used to govern the physical and chemical reactions required to produce food and prevent the growth of pathogens. This is exemplified while producing dairy and alcoholic beverages as it involves fermentation.

b) Electrochemical Industry :-

In the electrochemistry industry, pH measurement is central to the processes of plating, metal surface etching, and battery assembly. The pH of a plating solution will affect the finished plate– incorrect pH may increase the plated surface’s susceptibility to peeling and result in sub-optimal color and finish.

c) Paper and textiles industry :-

The paper and textiles industry require accurate pH measurements to ensure the wastewater produced in plants does not damage equipment and the environment.

In the textiles industry, pH measurement is essential in the dying process as specific pH values dictate the processing speed and longevity of the dye.

d) Waste Water industry

Wastewater typically contains effluents which can adhere to the electrodes used in papermaking. To remove these suspended solid effluents, flocculating agents are added which promote precipitation of particles. Wastewater treatment occurs in precipitation tanks. The pH is measured and adjusted to minimize damage to the tank and detect the endpoint of the process.


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