Forward Scattering Or Transmission Types

In the forward scattering or transmission design (see Figure 7.9.4), the turbidity meter light source is on one side of the process sample, and the detector is on the other. This design determines the total attenuation. When attenuation is due to color absorption, the unit is a colorimeter; when attenuation is caused by light scattered by solid particles, the unit is a turbidity meter.

Dual-Beam Design

When both color and solids are present, the total attenuation is the sum of absorption and scattering effects. Therefore, the single-beam turbidity analyzer can only be used if no color is present or the color is constant and its effect can be zeroed out. When background absorbance or color varies, a dual-beam or split-beam analyzer is needed. Such a unit is described in Figure 7.9.5.

This unit uses two light paths, one passing through the unfiltered process sample cell and the other through a reference sample cell containing filtered process fluid. Analyzer output is proportional to the difference of optical absorbance between the two cells, which corresponds to the solid particles present in the sample but not in the reference cell.

The design shown in Figure 7.9.5 has an oscillating mirror that alternately directs the light beam (alternating 600 times per sec) to the measuring and reference cells. The photocell detector converts the intensity differential of the two beams into a photocurrent that modulates the opening of a mechanical shutter so that the differential is zero.

FIG. 7.9.4 Schematic diagram of a transmission-type turbidity meter.
FIG. 7.9.5 Oscillating dual-beam, forward-scattering turbidity analyzer. (Courtesy of Sigrist Photometer AG)

Therefore, the more solid particles in the sample, the more the shutter needs to be closed, and the position of the shutter can be read as turbidity. If the reference cell is filled by other reference materials, the same instrument can measure other properties such as color and fluorescence.

Laser Type

In the laser-type, in-line turbidity meter shown in Figure 7.9.6, a thin ribbon of light is transmitted across the process stream. This light is attenuated by the process fluid and then falls on detector 1. If there are solids in the process fluid, some of the light is scattered. This scattered light is collected and falls on detector 2. The ratio of the two detector signals relates to the amount of solids in the process stream (turbidity); being a ratio signal, it is unaffected by light source aging, line voltage variations, or background light intensity variations. The laser-type detector is less sensitive to interference by gas bubbles than other turbidity meters because the laser-based light ribbon is so thin (about 2 mm). Therefore, when a bubble passes through it, it causes a pulse, which can be filtered out.

In general, in-line turbidity meters are less subject to bubble interference than turbidity analyzers that require sampling. Because in-line units do not lower the operating pressure of the stream, dissolved gases are not encouraged to come out of solution.


Turbidity instruments use a light beam projected into the sample fluid to effect a measurement. The light beam is scattered by the solids in suspension, and the degree of light attenuation or the amount of scattered light is related to turbidity. The light scattering is called the Tyndall effect and the scattered light the Tyndall light. A constant-

FIG. 7.9.6 Laser-type in-line turbidity meter detecting the total attenuation and the amount of scattering separately. (Reprinted, with permission, from ACSI)

candlepower lamp provides a light beam for measurement, and one or more photosensors convert the measured light intensity to an electrical signal for readout.

Usually the photosensor comes with a heater and thermostat to maintain a constant temperature because the device output is temperature sensitive. The supply voltage to the lamp must be regulated to at least As%. This regulation eliminates errors due to source intensity variations because the measured light is referenced to the source. Because deposits formed on the flow chamber windows by the sample interfere with measurement, the windows require frequent cleaning or automatic compensation.

Transmission-Type Design

Instruments measuring scattered light vary in design. One type uses a flow chamber similar to the one in Figure 7.9.4, except that the window for the measured light is located at 90° to the window for the incident light (see Figure 7.9.7). One window transmits light beams into the measuring chamber and the other, at right angles to the first, transmits scattered light to the photosensor. A light trap is located opposite the incident light window to eliminate reflection.

With this arrangement, dissolved colors do not affect the measurement; however, instrument sensitivity decreases with the presence of color because some light is absorbed. Variations of the basic unit include the use of two source beams and two photosensors in conjunction with two pairs of opposed windows.

Some designs use a separate photosensor to monitor lamp output and adjust the lamp supply voltage through a feedback circuit to maintain constant light intensity.

FIG. 7.9.6 Laser-type in-line turbidity meter detecting the total attenuation and the amount of scattering separately. (Reprinted, with permission, from ACSI)

FIG. 7.9.7 Light-scattering turbidity meter.


FIG. 7.9.7 Light-scattering turbidity meter.

Probe Design

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