White paper - Neutralization theory


Courtesy of W2 Systems

The most common measurement made in water-pollution control, particularly in the area of industrial wastewater treatment, is pH. Acidic and basic substances, which define pH, have a severe effect on aquatic life and, in turn, an effect on humans. Since acids and bases are used extensively in industry, it is important to understand these effects, because pH measurement is the essential key to study acid/base effects. Thus, you should understand and familiarize yourself with the concept of pH because of its important consequences to the industrial community and the environment.

We will need a few basic definitions to fully comprehend pH:

Ion: An atom or molecule with a net position or negative charge. The ions we are most concerned with are the positive charged hydrogen ion (H+) and the negatively charged hydroxide ion (OH-).

Concentration: A unit of measure defined as weight per volume. Our concentration has units of mole/liter or morality (M).

Logarithm: A mathematical operation used to express a number, by its powers of 10. For example, log 1,000,000 is log (10)6 or 6.0. The logarithm is used expressly to create the pH “scale”. Please note that each unit of pH is equivalent to a 10-fold increase in H+ or OH- ion

With these basic definitions now familiar, we can easily handle the concept of pH.

As we all know, the chemical formula for water is H2O, and some of us also know the H2O molecule can, and does breakdown into two ions, namely H+ and OH-. In pure water, the number of these free ions is very, very small, something like one H+ and one OH- ion in every half-billion water molecules.

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