Backscatter Turbidity Analyzers

For wastewater and biological sludge applications, probetype turbidity transmitters are preferred. One design (see Figure 7.9.8) uses an IR light source and measures the resulting 90° scattered light intensity. These microprocessor-based units are provided with built-in compensators for ambient light variations, and wipers for automatic cleaning of the dip or insertion probe. Cleaning frequency is adjustable between 1 and 6 hr. During the wiper action of the cleaner, the transmitter output signal is held at its last value.

FIG. 7.9.8 Automatically cleaned, 90° scatterer light-detecting turbidity transmitter. (Courtesy of BTG Inc.)

Figure 7.9.9 shows the in-line version of the backscatter-type turbidity analyzer, which can be installed in either pipes or vessels. Here, the 180° backscatter effect is measured. The units are suited for high-temperature applications (up to 450°F or 232°C) and for high concentrations of solids. Ranges from 10 to 5000 ppm to 5 to 15% on the silica scale are available. A backscattering design using fiber-optic light cables is also available (see Figure 7.9.3).


Turbidity measurement is fairly simple in theory; the most serious practical problems are posed by light source intensity changes, deposits on optical windows, and the presence of dissolved colors in the sample. Units are available that automatically correct for these effects and variations in the ambient light intensity as well as for gas bubbles. Self-cleaning probe design units are also available. Selection should be made on the basis of information needed (transmission or 90° or 180° scatter), and on the nature and concentration of the solids to be detected and the material of construction for each type.

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