For Sales & Service Contact
For Sales & Service Contact
2650 E. 40th Ave. • Denver, CO 80205
Phone 303-320-4764 • Fax 303-322-7242
1-800-833-7958
www.geotechenv.com
NexSens Technology, Inc.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1
Sensor Operation ................................................................................................................3
1.1
1.1.1
1.1.2
1.1.3
1.1.4
2
Ion Selective Electrode Sensors ...................................................................................3
WQ-NO3 – Nitrate ISE Sensor ........................................................................................................ 3
Making ISE Sensor Measurements................................................................................................... 4
Maintenance and Care ..................................................................................................................... 8
ISE Sensor Troubleshooting Guide ................................................................................................ 10
Software Operation...........................................................................................................11
2.1
2.2
2.3
2.4
2.5
2.6
Working with Data ....................................................................................................11
Data Validation and Review ......................................................................................15
Changing Software Settings .......................................................................................17
Science Library..........................................................................................................19
Help and Support .......................................................................................................20
Working with Project Files ........................................................................................21
Appendix ..................................................................................................................................23
Appendix A: Material Safety Data Sheets..............................................................................23
Appendix B: Warranty and Service .......................................................................................23
Appendix C: Computer Requirements ...................................................................................24
Appendix D: Step-by-Step Driver Installation .......................................................................24
Appendix E: ISE Frequently Asked Questions.......................................................................34
What is a WQSensor?
WQSensors offer the latest in smart sensor technology with direct computer interface. An
integral USB connector offers a simple, hassle-free connection without meters, batteries, or
power supplies - displaying the data in real-time directly onto the PC. Common water
quality parameters include: temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, ORP, NO3, NH4, and Cl.
Every sensor ships with WQSensor Software, which offers a simple graphical interface to the
smart sensors. The software includes the popular NexSens SCIENCE LIBRARY with an
interactive periodic table, unit converter, and other useful science utilities. Download a FREE
copy today!
Software Installation
WQSensor Software is distributed on CD-ROM. The setup program starts automatically when
the CD is inserted. If the program does not load automatically, you can manually start the setup
process by running Setup.exe from the CD ROM drive. We suggest that you accept the default
options presented by the WQSensor Software setup program.
Uninstalling WQSensors Software
If you need to uninstall WQSensor Software, click Settings in the Start Menu. Select Control
Panel, followed by Add / Remove Programs. Follow the step-by-step instructions to remove
WQSensor Software and all associated files.
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1 Sensor Operation
1.1 Ion Selective Electrode Sensors
1.1.1 WQ-NO3 – Nitrate ISE Sensor
WQSensor probes come ready to go and with most of the accessories you will need. Additionally,
you will need calibration buffers and calibration beakers or containers. These items should be
located in any lab where WQSensors will be used, or they can be purchased from a local
chemical supplier. These supplies may also be purchased from a NexSens Technology dealer:
http://www.nexsens.com/company/where_to_buy.htm
WQ-NO3 Sensor
These replaceable tip sensors offer ion specific measurements.
An internally stored unique ID and GLP file ensures quality
data, and tracks calibration and sensor status.
Nitrate Package Includes:







WQ-NO3: ISE sensor with 6 feet of cable and integral
USB connector and NO3 module.
NO3 Standard: 1000 ppm NO3- as N-NO3NO3 Fill Solution: 0.04(NH4)SO4
NO3 ISA 2M (NH4)SO4
ISE storage bottle
WQSensor Software & Knowledge Library CD
WQSensor Quick Start Guide
WQ-NO3 Sensor Specifications
Concentration Range
Temperature Range
pH range
Reproducibility
Known Interferences
Minimum Sample Size
Size:
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0.1 ppm to 14,000ppm (7 x10-6M to 1 M)
0 to 50°C
2.5 to 11 pH
±4%
ClO4-, I-, ClO3-, F3 mL in a 50 mL beaker
Electrode length
155 mm
Body Diameter
12 mm
Cap Diameter
16 mm
Cable Length
6 ft.
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1.1.2 Making ISE Sensor Measurements
Preparing ISE Sensors for Measurements
1. Remove the protective cap covering the sensor tip.
Caution: Do not touch the sensing element with your fingers.
2. The Reference Fill Solution in the reference chamber should be above the reference fill
line in the electrode. If the reference fill solution is below this line, add Reference Fill
Solution from the bottle provided. To fill, slide the sleeve of the electrode Fastfill cap
down to uncover the fill holes.
3. Shake the electrode downwards like a thermometer to remove any air bubbles trapped
inside. Make sure to slide the Fastfill sleeve to the closed position.
4. Rinse the electrode with distilled or de-ionized water, blot dry. Do not rub dry.
5. Immerse the tip of the electrode in distilled or de-ionized water and stir the water for 5
minutes. This will properly clean the electrode.
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Making ISE Sensor Measurements
The quality of results depends on the quality and accuracy of the measurement technique and
standards used. The following guidelines are recommended.
1. Prepare fresh standards for calibration daily. Prepare at least two standard solutions that
differ in concentration by a factor of 10 and bracket the expected sample values. The
standards are typically prepared by diluting a 1000 ppm stock solution of the ion to be
measured. Use high quality distilled or deionized water for dilution.
2. Always add ISA to ensure that all samples and standards have a similar ionic strength.
Use ISA in a 50:1 sample to ISA ratio for the WQ-NO3 probe.*
3. Calibrate and measure all samples and standards at the same temperature (within 1°C).
If temperature changes occur, the sensor should be recalibrated.
4. Always have the FastFill sleeve open during measurements. This puts atmospheric
pressure on the reference fluid giving a more reproducible flow out of the junction.
5. After immersion in solution, check the electrode for any air bubbles on the sensing
element. Remove any air bubbles by gently tapping on the electrode.
6. Make sure that the Reference Filling Solution level is higher than the sample level.
7. Make sure that the sample level covers the immersion line on probe.
8. Stirring is recommended as it decreases the amount of time needed to reach equilibrium.
Stir thoroughly at a slow to moderate speed, using either a magnetic stirrer or the probe
as a stirring rod. Stirring rate should be consistent among all standards and samples.
Note: Magnetic stirrers may generate enough heat to change solution temperature. A
piece of insulating material such as cork, cardboard, or styrofoam between the stir plate
and beaker will help prevent heat transfer.
9. Always rinse electrodes with distilled or deionized water between measurements. Blot
dry. Never rub dry.
10. Concentrated samples (over 0.1 M) should be diluted before measurement.
*Note: The WQ-NO3 sensor functions in a pH range of 2.5-11. The addition of a buffer to the
ISA will adjust standards and samples to the desired pH value. More complex ISA formulations
can include additives that complex possible interferences. Interfering ions for the WQ-NO3
include: CIO4-, I-, ClO3- and F-.
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Calibrating ISE Sensors
Prepare two standard solutions that differ in concentration by a factor of ten and bracket the
expected sample concentration range (i.e 10 ppm & 100 ppm standard if measuring samples
between 20 and 50 ppm). Standards should be made fresh daily. The standards should be at
the same temperature as the sample.
During or after calibration, observe the mV reading slope. Slope is defined as the change in
millivolts observed with every ten-fold change in concentration.

A WQ-NO3 sensor slope should typically be between 57.1 mV +/- 5mV at 25 °C per
decade of concentration. Every 1/2 a degree in temperature generally moves this value
up or down 0.1 mV.
Observing the slope value provides the best means for checking electrode performance. This can
be done by checking the GLP file or by turning on mV in the Settings menu during calibration.
1. Connect the ISE sensor to the PC via the USB connector.
2. Slide the sleeve of the electrode FastFil cap down to uncover the fill holes.
3. Place 100 mL of the lower concentration standard into a 150 mL beaker. Add 2 mL of
ISA.* Stir thoroughly.
4. Rinse electrode with distilled or de-ionized water, blot dry, and then place in the beaker.
Current readings in concentration and mV will appear on the screen. Wait for the mV
readings to stabilize, this could take 1-2 minutes.
5. Press the Calibrate button and click on the ISE ppm reading. Enter the concentration
value of the first standard and press the Calibrate button.
6. Place 100 mL of the higher concentration standard into a second 150 mL beaker. Add 2
mL of ISA. * Stir thoroughly.
7. Rinse electrode with distilled or de-ionized water, blot dry and place in the second
beaker. Current readings in concentration and mV will appear on the screen. Wait for the
readings to stabilize, this could take 1-2 minutes.
8. Press the Calibrate button and click on the ISE ppm reading. Enter the concentration
value of the second standard and press the Calibrate button.
ISE sensors should be calibrated as often as possible, such as each day before use. For
maximum accuracy, calibrate every one to two hours. Calibration drift can be checked by
immersing the probe in standard. If the value has changed significantly since calibration,
recalibrate.
*Note: A smaller volume of standard and ISA may be used, but ensure the standard covers the
immersion line indicated on the probe, and that ISA is added in a 50: 1 standard to ISA ratio.
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1.1.3 Maintenance and Care
Sensing Module Assembly
Install the replacement sensing module into the electrode
body by screwing the sensing module until it is hand tight.
Caution: Do not touch the sensing element with your
fingers or over tighten the sensing module.
ISE Sensor Storage
Short Term Storage (1-3 days)
Rinse the electrode thoroughly with distilled or de-ionized water. Place the tip in a
solution of 2 mL of ISA in 100 mL of distilled or de-ionized water. Slide the FastFil
sleeve up to close the refill holes.
Long Term Storage
Sensor tip: The electrode sensor tip should be stored dry. Rinse the electrode
thoroughly with distilled or de-ionized water and blot dry. When completely dry,
place in protective boot in which it was shipped.
Reference chamber: The reference junction should be wet at all times. Fill the
reference chamber with Reference Filling Solution so that the surface of the solution
is above the Reference Fill line. Slide sleeve up to close refill holes.
Salt deposits may form on the reference chamber. Wipe away any salt deposits with
distilled or de-ionized water. Warm water will remove salt deposits more quickly, and
is recommended if there is an abundance of salt deposits.
When ready to use the probe again, follow the instructions in the “Preparing ISE
Sensors for Measurements” section of the manual.
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Cleaning and Reconditioning
PVC ISE:
A good working ISE response stabilizes within one or two minutes.
However the ISE can become sluggish if the membrane becomes
dirty from grease or particles in the sample.
A PVC ISE, such as the WQ-NO3 sensors, should just be rinsed with water. After
thoroughly rinsing with de-ionized water, the electrodes should be reconditioned by
soaking for 2-4 hours in the lowest standard used for calibration.
Caution: Do not touch the sensing element with your fingers or rub the sensing
element. It can be dabbed with a damp cloth to clean off salt deposits, but it is best
to soak the element.
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1.1.4 ISE Sensor Troubleshooting Guide
Problems may arise due to errors with:




Electrode function
Standards
Samples
Technique
Follow the steps below to isolate the source of the problem.
Electrode Function
The following steps should be performed to test electrode slope. Slope is defined as the change
in millivolts observed with every ten-fold change in concentration.

A WQ-NO3 sensor slope should typically be between 57.1 mV +/- 5mV at 25 °C per
decade of concentration. Every 1/2 a degree in temperature generally moves this value
up or down 0.1 mV.
Observing the slope value provides the best means for checking electrode performance. This can
be done by checking the GLP file or by turning on mV in the Settings menu during calibration.
The difference between the mV values of first and the second standards is identified as the
electrode slope. If the electrode slope is not within the normal range, the following procedure
may restore the electrode. Before beginning, check that the Reference Fill Solution level in the
reference chamber is higher than the reference fill line.
1. Soak the electrode in a 10 ppm standard solution for 2 hours before use.
2. Recheck the mV slope.
Note: All standard solutions should be prepared fresh. You must use ISA. All standards
must be at the same temperature as the calibration reagent.
If the electrode slope is still outside the normal range after this procedure, please contact the
NexSens technical service department.
Standards:
The quality of results depends greatly upon the quality of the standards. Always prepare fresh
standards when problems arise; it could save hours of troubleshooting. Error may result from
contamination of prepared standards, accuracy of dilution, quality of distilled water, or a
mathematical error in calculating the concentrations.
Keep all solutions tightly covered when not in use.
Samples:
If the electrodes work properly in standards, but not in samples, there may be interfering ions,
complexing agents, or substances which could affect responses. If possible, determine the
composition of the samples and use the appropriate complexing agents for interfering ions.
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Check that the pH of the solution is within the operating range of the probe.
Be sure that the expected concentration of the sample is within the measurement range of the
probe.
Technique
Closely follow the methods described in the “Making ISE Sensor Measurements” section of the
manual.
2 Software Operation
2.1 Working with Data
After running WQSensors software and connecting a WQSensor, real time data can be viewed in
the Sensors menu. When a single sensor is connected it will be displayed as shown. The serial
number of the sensor, as well as the time of last obtained reading, is displayed on the bottom of
the screen.
If multiple sensors are connected, they will be displayed in a tabular format as shown. Numerical
buttons on the bottom of the screen allow scrolling through each panel of four sensors.
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Logging Data
Data can be logged either as single measurements or as a stream of measurements over userspecified time intervals. This interval can be specified by clicking the Interval button in the
Settings menu. Logged data can be viewed by clicking the Report button in the View menu.
To log a single data point, click on the left hand side of the Log button. The left side of the
button will turn blue and a short animation with the letter L will display on the bottom left hand
corner of the screen.
To start logging continuous measurements at the user defined interval, click on the right hand
side of the Log button. The entire button will turn blue and at the log interval, a short animation
with the letter L will display on the bottom left hand corner of the screen.
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Calibrating Sensor Readings
To calibrate Sensor Readings:
1. Click on the Calibrate button
2. Select the parameter reading to calibrate as shown below
3. Enter the calibrated value
4. Click the Calibrate button again to complete the change
A short animation with the letter C will display on the bottom left hand corner of the screen.
Temperature and mV values cannot be calibrated (except for calibration of ORP). This calibration
is stored on the sensor, which means that the sensor can be calibrated on one computer and still
returned calibrated results no matter which other computers it is used on.
Refer to the calibration guidelines in the sensor sections earlier in this manual for information on
when and what values to calibrate with.
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2.2 Data Validation and Review
Good Laboratory Practice Files
WQSensors software automatically records every calibration to a Good Laboratory Practice (GLP)
file. The GLP file will include the time, data, sample readings, and diagnostic data for each
calibration. This file is stored on the sensor and will carry over from PC to PC.
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Data Reports
Data is stored inside WQSensors software project files and can be viewed in graphical, statistical,
and tabular formats. To view this data click the View button, then click the Report button.
Select the desired report options and then click Generate.
From the report tool bar data can be saved, printed, or exported to Microsoft Excel ©.
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2.3 Changing Software Settings
Customizable options are available in WQSensors software in the Application Settings menu.
Show introduction animation?
This option specifies whether to display the opening animation that plays each time WQSensors
software is started. Un-checking this box will disable the software from playing the animation
each time.
Remember last menu location?
This option specifies whether the WQSensors software should reload the last menu opened each
time the WQSensors software starts. Un-checking this box will make the Sensors menu the
default page when starting WQSensors software. This feature is useful if a specific Library menu
table or formula is used often.
Convert Celsius to Fahrenheit?
This option specifies whether to display temperature values in Celsius or Fahrenheit.
Un-checking this box will display all temperature readings in degrees Fahrenheit.
Show mV values?
This option specifies whether the Sensors menu should display the mV readings from the
sensors. Un-checking this box will disable the display of mV values. mV readings are diagnostic
information and are not required to take measurements. They are useful, however, in
determining sensor performance and calibration.
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Changing Log Interval
The intervals at which the sensor logs data can be changed in the Software Logging Interval
menu. Clicking the Interval button on the Settings menu displays the current log interval in
seconds. To change the interval, enter a new value and click Apply.
Please see the Logging Data section for starting and stopping this feature.
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2.4 Science Library
The WQSensor software Library menu is a desktop reference for water, wastewater, and
environmental professionals. It's packed with tables, calculations, and many conversions.
Features include:
 Converting units of measure
 Calculating flow over a weir
 Determining the inside diameter of PVC pipe
 Finding the ammonia tolerance level for rainbow trout
 Determining the atomic weight of bromine
 Finding the concentrations of elements in sea water
 And much more...
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2.5 Help and Support
WQSensors software integrates the internet into part of its functionality. Software updates,
technical support, and other information can be obtained in the Help menu.
Technical questions or comments
NexSens technical staff can be reached right inside of the program. Click on the Help button in
the Help menu to send an email directly to NexSens technical support. Be sure to include a
name and email address that they can contact you with. If you would prefer to be contacted by
phone, include that in the message along with your phone number.
Note: An internet connection is not required to run WQSensors software.
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2.6 Working with Project Files
When WQSensors software first runs, it defaults to Project_1. This is simply a default name for
the default project file. Each project file contains information about every sensor that was
connected to the computer while that file was open, as well as any data that was collected during
that time as well.
Creating new project files
To create a new project, for a specific experiment or study, click the New button in the File
menu and enter a project name. Click OK when finished.
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Open an existing project
To open a previously created project, select Open from the File menu. Select the project to
open and click OK. WQSensors software will begin using that project file as the current project.
Renaming project files
To rename the current project, select Rename from the File menu. Enter a new name and click
OK.
To rename projects, other than the current one, simply select Open and select the project to be
renamed from the list of existing projects. This project can then be renamed on this tab.
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Appendix
Appendix A: Material Safety Data Sheets
Material Safety Data Sheets can be found at: http://www.nexsens.com/support/msds.htm
Appendix B: Warranty and Service
NexSens Technology, Inc. warrants WQSensors against defects in materials or workmanship for
a period of 6 months from the date of delivery to the original customer. This warranty is limited
to the replacement or repair of such defects, without charge, when the instrument is returned to
NexSens Technology, Inc. Damage due to accidents, misuse, tampering, lack of reasonable
care, loss of parts, failure to perform prescribed maintenance, or accidents of nature are not
covered. This warranty excludes all other warranties, express or implied, and is limited to a
value not exceeding the purchase price of the instrument.
Limitation of Warranty
This warranty is not applicable to any NexSens Technology, Inc. product damage or failure
caused by (i) failure to install, operate or use the product in accordance with NexSens
Technology, Inc. written instructions, (ii) abuse or misuse of the product, (iii) failure to maintain
the product in accordance with NexSens Technology, Inc. written instructions, (iv) any improper
repairs to the product, (v) use by you of defective or improper components or parts in servicing
or repairing the product, or (vi) modification of the product in any way not expressly authorized
by NexSens Technology, Inc.
Warning: NexSens Technology, Inc. products are not authorized for use as critical components
in any life support system where failure of the product is likely to affect its safety or
effectiveness.
Authorized U.S. Service Centers
– Corporate Headquarters –
NexSens Technology, Inc.
1328 Parkway Court
Dayton, Ohio 45432
– Phone: (937) 426-2703
– Fax: (937) 426-1125
– E-Mail: [email protected]
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Appendix C: Computer Requirements
WQSensor Software requires the following minimum system configuration:







Pentium class PC
64 MB RAM
100 MB hard drive
2MB video card
CD-ROM drive for Software installation
Adobe Flash
Windows 2000 (SP1 or higher) or Windows XP
Appendix D: Step-by-Step Driver Installation
After installation of the WQSensor Software, USB communicate with the sensor will be enabled.
When the adapter is plugged in for the first time, Windows will automatically recognize it and
start the Found New Hardware wizard. See the following sections for details.
Installation for Windows 2000
When the USB adapter is plugged in for the first time, Windows will detect and start the Found
New Hardware Wizard:
1. Click Next when the Found New Hardware Wizard dialog box appears.
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2. Check the “Search for suitable driver for my device” option. Click Next to continue.
3a. If the WQSensor installation CD is in the CD-ROM drive, place a check mark in the “CDRom drives” option and click Next. This is the recommended method, if the WQSensor CD is
available. Windows will scan the CD and automatically install the driver.
3b. If the WQSensor software is unavailable or the software has been downloaded from the
internet. Check “Specify a location” and click Next.
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Click Browse and go to the location of the driver. By default the driver is located in “C:\Program
Files\NexSens\WQSensor\Driver\wqsensor.inf”. Click Open.
Click OK to continue.
4. Once Windows has successfully found the driver, click Next.
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5. Click Finish in the following window. Make sure that the driver has been successfully
installed.
Note: The above steps only need to be completed successfully once.
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Installation for Windows XP
When the USB adapter is plugged in for the first time, Windows will detect and start the Found
New Hardware Wizard:
1. Select No, not this time and click Next, when the Found New Hardware Wizard appears.
2a. If the WQSensor installation CD is in the CD-ROM drive then click the Install the
Software automatically option and click Next. This is the recommended method, if the
WQSensor CD is available. Windows will scan the CD and automatically install the driver.
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2b. If the WQSensor software is unavailable or the software has been downloaded from the
internet. Check “Specify a location” and click Next.
Click Browse and go to the location of the driver. By default the driver is located in “C:\Program
Files\NexSens\WQSensor\Driver\wqsensor.inf”.
Click Ok
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3. If the following dialog box appears, click Continue Anyway.
4. Windows will search for the driver.
Make sure that the driver has been successfully installed. If it has been, click Finish.
Note: The above steps only need to be
completed successfully once.
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If for any reason the following window appears:
The driver will need to be reinstalled. Typically Windows will not redisplay the Found New
Hardware wizard automatically again. Therefore Windows Device Manager will have to be
used.
The Device Manager can be accessed by going to the Start menu and clicking on Control
Panel. Click on the file labeled System.
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The System Properties dialog box will appear. Go to the Hardware tab and click Device
Manager.
You should see a device labeled USB Device that has a yellow icon by its name.
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Right click on the device and select Update Driver. This will restart the Found New
Hardware Wizard. Go back to step one and follow to install the driver.
If you need further assistance call a NexSens Support Representative at (937)-426-2151 or
email us at [email protected]
Installation for Windows Vista
In Windows Vista, driver installation is automatic. You may see a small screen pop up on the
bottom right hand corner of the screen for the first few seconds the device is plugged in, after
which it will appear in the software.
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Appendix E: ISE Frequently Asked Questions
1.
2.
3.
4.
What is an ISE probe?
What is ISA, and why is it added when using many of the ISE probes?
What is the relationship between ionic activity and concentration?
What is the difference between Nitrogen-Nitrate and Nitrate? Or NitrogenAmmonium and Ammonium?
5. How do you convert from Molarity (M) to parts per million (ppm) and mg/L?
6. How do I dilute the stock standard to make lower concentrations of standards
for calibration?
7. What is the real world range of ISE probes?
1. What is an ISE probe?
ISE stands for Ion Selective Electrode. Ion Selective Electrodes are membrane-based
electrochemical sensors. The membrane on the electrode is the component that makes
the electrode selective for a particular ion.
Four different types of ISEs can be described based on the material of the membrane:
 Glass membrane (pH)
 Solid State membrane (Chloride, Bromide, Fluoride)
 Polymeric membrane (Ammonium, Calcium, Nitrate)
 Gas Permeable membrane (Dissolved Oxygen)
When an ISE probe is placed in solution, the ion of interest (i.e. chloride, calcium, etc.)
will interact with the ISE membrane in a selective way. An electrical potential will
develop across the membrane. This electrical potential is proportional to the free ionic
activity of the solution. When the activity increases (more free ions in solution) the
electrode potential becomes more positive when the electrode is sensing a cation and
more negative when the electrode is sensing an anion.
This electrical potential is then measured against a stable electrical potential in a
reference electrode. WQSensors use combined reference electrodes, meaning that the
reference electrode is contained within the same probe body as the electrochemical
sensing electrode.
For a tenfold change in ionic activity (i.e. 10ppm to 100ppm), the electrode potential at
25°C changes by 59.2 ± 5 mV when the ion being measured is monovalent (Br-, Cl-, F-,
NO3-, NH4+), and 29.6 ± 5 mV when the ion being measured is divalent (Ca+2).
2. What is ISA, and why is it added when using many of the ISE probes?
ISA stands for ionic strength adjuster. It is important to add ISA to all standards and
samples when using most ISE electrodes (with the exception of a few, such as pH and
dissolved oxygen). The addition of ISA ensures that all samples and standards will have
a similar ionic strength. This is important because the ionic strength of a solution affects
the relationship between activity and concentration. By bringing the ionic strength of all
samples and standards to a similar level, the effect of variable ionic strengths on the
activity is overcome thus reducing the margin of error.
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3. What is the relationship between ionic activity and concentration?
Ion selective electrodes respond to ionic activity in a solution. However, most
researchers are really interested in the total concentration of a species in solution.
Although ionic activity is related to concentration, they are not necessarily the same.
Two factors affect the relationship between activity and concentration: the presence of
complexing species; and the total ionic strength of a solution.
First, activity refers only to free, unbound ions. A portion of the total concentration may
be bound or complexed by other ions in the solution and therefore does not exist in the
free ionized state. An ISE probe only senses the activity of the free unbound ions.
Second, ionic activity depends on the total ionic strength of the solution, which is a
measure of its overall ionic composition. In general, as ionic strength increases, the ratio
of ionic activity to the ionic concentration (that portion of the total concentration which
is uncomplexed) for a given species changes. This ratio is called the activity coefficient.
For solutions which contain only uncomplexed ions, the total concentration is simply the
ionic activity divided by the activity coefficient. Adding ISA (ionic strength adjuster) to
all standards and solutions helps to remove any differences among solution caused by
variations in ionic strength.
4.
What is the difference between Nitrogen-Nitrate and Nitrate? Or NitrogenAmmonium and Ammonium?
Nitrogen exists in various forms, including nitrate (NO3-), ammonium (NH4+), and
ammonia (NH3). In order to differentiate among the various forms of nitrogen in a
sample, analysis of nitrogen is often expressed in terms of the amount of nitrogen
combined in its various forms, such as nitrate-nitrogen, or ammonium-nitrogen. The
term nitrate-nitrogen defines all the nitrogen in the sample that exists as nitrate and the
term ammonium-nitrogen defines all the nitrogen in the sample that exists as
ammonium.
There is a simple mathematical relationship to convert from the expression of nitrate to
nitrate-nitrogen, or ammonium to ammonium-nitrogen. This relationship is based on the
chemical formula for the ion.
Every element has an atomic mass. The atomic mass for nitrogen is 14, because it has 7
electrons and 7 protons. The atomic mass for oxygen is 16, because is has 8 protons
and 8 electrons.
The chemical formula for nitrate is NO3-. It is a combination of 1 nitrogen atom, which
has an atomic mass of 14, and 3 oxygen atoms, each of which has an atomic mass of
16. Therefore, the atomic mass for nitrate is 62 (14+ 48 = 62). If a solution had a
concentration of 62 ppm nitrate, it would contain 14 ppm nitrogen and 48 ppm oxygen.
This can be expressed either as 62 ppm nitrate, or 14 ppm nitrate-nitrogen.
To convert from nitrate-nitrogen (NO3--N) to nitrate (NO3-), simply multiply by 4.43:
Nitrate (NO3-) = Nitrate-Nitrogen (NO3--N) x 4.43
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The conversion factor 4.43 comes from the atomic mass of nitrate divided by the atomic
mass of nitrogen (62/14). For instance, if 10 and 100 ppm NO3--N standards were
prepared for calibration, this would be equal to 44.3 and 443 ppm NO3- standards.
For ammonium-nitrate (NH4+-N)
Similarly, the atomic mass for ammonium is 18. This is because ammonium is a
combination of 1 nitrogen atom, which has an atomic mass of 14, and 4 hydrogen
atoms, each of which has an atomic mass of 1.
To convert from ammonium-nitrogen (NH4+-N) to ammonium (NH4+), simply multiply by
1.286.
Ammonium (NH4+) = Ammonium-Nitrogen (NH4+-N) x 1.286
Similarly, if 10 and 100 ppm NH4+-N standards were prepared for calibration, this would
be equal to 12.86 and 128.6 ppm NH4+ standards.
Note: The standards sold with the WQSensors are sold as 1000 ppm NO3—N and 1000
ppm NH4+-N.
5. How do you convert from Molarity (M) to parts per million (ppm) and mg/L?
The molarity of a solution is the number of moles of solute per liter of solution. The
molar mass of any particle (atom, molecule, formula, or ion) is the sum of the average
atomic masses of all atoms forming that particle. This is also known as molecular
weight.
The molar mass of an atom is its average atomic mass expressed in grams. The atomic
mass of all atoms can be found in the periodic table.
For dilute solutions, one part per million equals one mg/L. In most cases, the two are
considered equal.
To convert from molarity to ppm, first determine the molar mass of a substance. For
instance, chloride has a molar mass of 35.5 (rounded up from 35.45). A solution with 1
M concentration would have 35.5 g of chloride per 1 L of solution.
Chloride
Molarity
moles/Liter
(M)
1M
10-1 M (0.1 M)
10-2 M (0.2 M)
10-3 M (0.3 M)
10-4 M (0.4 M)
grams/L
(g/L)
Parts Per Million
(ppm)
milligrams/L
(mg/L)
35.5
3.55
0.355
0.0355
0.00355
35,500
3,550
355.0
35.5
3.550
35,500
3,550
355.0
35.5
3.550
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6. How do I dilute the stock standard to make lower concentrations of standards
for calibration?
Standards are made from the 1000 ppm or 10-1 M stock standard. When preparing
standards, you should prepare two standards that differ by a factor of 10, and bracket
the expected concentration range of your sample. For example, if you expect the
chloride concentrations in your samples to be 20 to 80 ppm, you should prepare
standards that are 10 and 100 ppm.
To prepare standards from your stock standard, follow the subsequent formula:
V1C1 = V2C2
Where V=Volume and C=Concentration. V1C1 are the volume and concentration of your
stock standard, where V2C2 are the volume and concentration of your diluted standard.
When preparing a new standard from stock standard, V1 (volume of stock standard) is
your unknown.
For example, say you want to prepare 100 mL of 10 ppm and 100 ppm chloride standard
from your 1000 ppm stock standard. Then, you need to figure out what volume of your
stock standard is used:
For the 10 ppm standard:
V1 = the volume of stock standard used to make your new more dilute standard. This
is your unknown.
C1 = 1000 ppm in the stock solution
V2 = total volume made in the more dilute standard you are making = 100 mL
C2 = concentration of new more dilute standard = 10 ppm
V1 = (V2C2)/C1
V1= (100*10)/1000 = 1 mL of 1000 ppm stock standard
Therefore, pipette 1 mL of 1000 ppm standard into a 100 mL volumetric flask, then
bringing to 100 mL volume with distilled or deionized water.
Note: ISA is added to the standard after the dilution. Its volume is not considered in
the dilution. This is because it will also be added to the samples. This way, both the
standards and samples are equally diluted by the ISA.
For the 100 ppm standard:
V1 = the volume of stock standard to use to make your new more dilute standard. This
is your unknown.
C1 = 1000 ppm in the stock solution
V2 = total volume made in the more dilute standard you are making = 100 mL
C2 = concentration of new more dilute standard = 100 ppm
V1 = (V2C2)/C1
V1= (100*100)/1000 = 10 mL of 1000 ppm stock standard
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Therefore pipette 10 mL of 1000 ppm standard into a 100 mL volumetric flask, then
bringing to 100 mL volume with distilled or deionized water.
Note: ISA is added to the standard after the dilution. Its volume is not considered in the
dilution. This is because it will also be added to the samples. This way, both the
standards and samples are equally diluted by the ISA.
7. After soaking a Nitrate electrode overnight in a low standard, why does it not
respond when I try to calibrate?
This is a common problem with all nitrate electrodes. Soaking overnight in a standard
‘numbs’ the membrane to any changes and needs to be air dried for at least 12 to 24
hours before you try to use it again. Next time you want to soak the electrode prior to
use, try only soaking it for 10-20 minutes and then calibrating.
8. What is the real world range of ISE probes?
The specified range of ISE probes given in the “Specifications” section of this manual is
for clean solutions without any interference ions present. For example, chloride ISE
probes are given as 1.8ppm to 35,500ppm
In real world samples the range, as you measure near the limits, may be quite less
depending on the identity of interference ions, temperature of samples vs. temperature
of calibration standards, or fouling of the sample being measured.
To ensure measurement results match the probe range:
1. Measure samples in clean beakers and environments where the temperature
of the sample matches the temperature of the standard the probe was
calibrated.
2.
Run multiple samples per measurement.
3. Ensure long term care of the probe by using ISA buffer solution in
measurement standards as well as keeping the probe filling solution clean and
full inside of the probe body.
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