Development of a reference solution for the pH of seawater

Prenesti, Enrico; Ferrara, Enzo; Berto, Silvia; Fisicaro, Paola; Daniele, Pier Giuseppe
August 2007
Analytical & Bioanalytical Chemistry;Aug2007, Vol. 388 Issue 8, p1877
Academic Journal
A method that uses a Harned cell to perform potentiometric pH measurements has been optimized and applied to an aqueous solution of simulated seawater that contains sodium perchlorate, sodium sulfate, sodium hydrogen carbonate and boric acid and has an ionic strength I of 0.57 mol kg−1. The standard metrological approach developed for the measurement of pH in low ionic strength aqueous solutions was maintained, but a few modifications were necessary, and measurement procedures and calculations were modified ad hoc from those adopted in conventional protocols. When determining the standard potential of the cell, E°, NaClO4 salt was added to a 0.01 mol/kg HCl solution to attain the same ionic strength as the test solution and to investigate possible specific effects related to the high levels and the nature of the background electrolyte. An appropriate value of γ ±HCl (0.737) was then selected from the literature, based on a realistic value for I. Finally, in order to convert the acidity function at zero chloride molality into pH, a suitable value of γ Cl (0.929) was calculated. As a result, we obtained pH = 8.18 ( T = 25 °C) with an associated expanded uncertainty U = 0.01 (coverage factor k = 2). The aim was to establish a sound basis for the pH measurement of seawater by identifying the critical points of the experimental and theoretical procedure, and to discuss further possible developments that would be useful for achieving a reference solution.


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