Significant natural self-cleaning by turbulent eddies requires a velocity of 5 or more feet per second (fps) past the electrode. A velocity of greater than 10 fps can cause excessive measurement noise and sensor wear. The area obstructed by the electrode must be subtracted from the total cross-sectional area when estimating the total area open to flow around the electrode. The pressure drop at the restricted cross section should be calculated to ensure
that no cavitation occurs. Flat surface electrodes get adequate cleaning action at velocities of 1 to 2 fps.
The addition of filters shifts the maintenance from the electrode to the filter. Usually, the filter must be changed more often than the electrode must be cleaned. An extra filter is not recommended unless it is self-cleaning (see Figure 7.7.6) or can be automatically backwashed. The Filtrate Master from Bailey-TBI (patent pending) is designed to provide a solids-free measurement for an assembly submerged in a slurry. It reverses flow and pulses loose particles caught in the 10-^m metal filter.
Four types of automatic cleaners are ultrasonic, brush, water-jet, and chemical. Table 7.7.4 shows the performance ratings for various applications, and Figure 7.7.7 shows the components of these assemblies. These methods concentrate on the removal of coatings from the measurement bulb. Particles and material clogged in the porous reference junction are generally difficult to dislodge. The impedance of plugged reference junctions can get so high that it approaches an open circuit, and the pH reading exceeds the scale.
Ultrasonic cleaners use ultrasonic waves to vibrate the liquid near electrode surfaces. Effectiveness depends on the vibration energy and fluid velocity past the electrodes. Heavy-duty electrodes are needed to withstand the ultrasonic energy. The ultrasonic cleaner works well in processes where fine particles and easily supersaturated sediments are formed or in suspension. It can move loose and light particles and oil deposits. Ultrasonic cleaners are sometimes not effective in applications where the coatings are difficult to remove.
The brush cleaner removes coatings by rotating a soft brush around the measurement bulb. The brush does not reach the reference junction. It has an adjustable height and a replaceable brush and can be electrically or pneumatically driven. Soft brushes are used for glass, and ceramic disks are used for antimony electrodes. Sticky materials can clog the brush and smear the bulb.
The water-jet cleaner directs a high-velocity water jet to the measurement bulb. The reading of the loop becomes erratic during washing. Therefore, the cycle timer that starts the jet should also freeze the pH reading and switch the pH controller to manual during the wash cycle and for 2 min or more after the wash period for electrode recovery. The water jet works well in removing materials that are easily dissolved in water.
The chemical probe cleaning method uses a chemical jet, such as a dilute acid or base, that is compatible with the process. A base is typically used for resins and an acid for crystalline precipitations (carbonates) and amorphous precipitations (hydroxides). A dilute hydrochloric acid solution is frequently used.
Chemical cleaning tends to be the most effective method, but acid and base cleaners chemically attack the
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