Ph and alkalinity relationship

ph and alkalinity relationship

for living organisms, the buffer action, conductivity, and total alkalinity of various graphs for the relationship between pH, total alkalinity, and the three forms of. Relationship between pH and Alkalinity. Introduction. Alkalinity and pH are used in water treatment as an indication of the scaling or corrosion potential of water. Alkalinity also needs to be high for the high pH water to have a strong The theoretical relationship between carbonate alkalinity and pH for.

Alkaline means that the pH is greater than 7. Alkalinity is the true measure of acid-neutralizing capacity which includes the bicarbonate HCOcarbonate CO and hydroxide OH-1 ions. Alkalinity of natural water is determined by the soil and bedrock through which it passes.

The main sources for natural alkalinity are rocks which contain carbonate, bicarbonate, and hydroxide compounds. Borates, silicates, and phosphates also may contribute to alkalinity. Limestone is rich in carbonates, so waters flowing through limestone regions or bedrock containing carbonates generally have high alkalinity - hence good buffering capacity. Conversely, areas rich in granites and some conglomerates and sandstones may have low alkalinity and therefore poor buffering capacity.

A pH less than 6. It measures the presence of carbon dioxide, bicarbonate, carbonate, and hydroxide ions that are naturally present in water. At normal drinking water pH levels, bicarbonate, and carbonate are the main contributors to alkalinity.

As we can see in the below graph the higher the CO2 the more alkaline the water at a given pH. In the chemistry of natural waters, there are several types of alkalinity that are encountered.

ph and alkalinity relationship

The reason that aquarists measure alkalinity is that in normal seawater, most alkalinity consists of bicarbonate and carbonate.

Consequently, alkalinity is an indication of whether or not adequate bicarbonate is present in the water. For example, at a pH of about 9.

At higher pH this multiplier rises, and there is consequently more bicarbonate and carbonate present. More bicarbonate and carbonate results in higher alkalinity, as is shown in Figure 1. A second interesting feature of Figure 1 is that at any pH, the alkalinity of seawater is much higher than that in fresh water.

The reason in simple terms is that the multipliers described above are larger in salt water. The more quantitative reason is that the dissociation constants are higher in salt water. Higher dissociation constants force a higher concentration of bicarbonate and carbonate to be present for a given concentration of carbonic acid.

Hence, they result in a higher alkalinity. A third feature of this relationship involves the pH of seawater as the ambient CO2 level rises. If CO2 is allowed to double Figure 2the pH drops by 0. Consequently, in the future, the pH of seawater may actually drop into the upper 7's from the 8.

The theoretical relationship between carbonate alkalinity and pH for seawater in equilibrium for preindustrial air green; ppm carbon dioxidecurrent air blue; ppm carbon dioxide and possible future air red; ppm carbon dioxide using equations 2 and 3.

Water, Alkalinity & pH

An important point to keep in mind is that the relationship will be altered slightly if the tank is not in equilibrium with the air. Specifically, reef tanks are often not in equilibrium with the air, making the internal pCO2 for the tank something different than the surrounding air. For example, tanks using limewater can have a pH value of 8. Looking at Figure 2, this puts them off of the theoretical relationship for seawater in ambient air.

The fundamental explanation is that the tank is deficient in CO2. In effect, the tank has an internal pCO2 that is more like that for the preindustrial air with ppm CO2 Figure 2. In this case, driving more CO2 from "normal air" into the water would lower the pH to about 8. Again, that set of values falls off of the theoretical curve shown in Figure 2.

In this case, the tank has an artificially high internal pCO2 of more than twice "normal air". Driving more CO2 from the tank into "normal air" would raise the pH to about 8. A third way that reef tanks can present unusual combinations of pH and alkalinity is if the tank is in an environment where the ambient CO2 is far from normal. Rarely would such a situation involve reduced CO2, but homes and businesses are frequently elevated with respect to CO2. Such levels as those represented by the ppm line in Figure 2 are frequently encountered by aquarists, especially those living in newer, "tighter" homes and some have proven this fact to themselves with carbon dioxide detectors.

Aquarists that experience chronic low pH despite adequate alkalinity and aeration may do so because their homes have such elevated levels of carbon dioxide. Many of these aquarists have found that the pH of their tanks rises substantially by simply leaving a window near the tank open to permit better exchange with exterior, "normal" air.

Finally, pCO2 fluctuates within a reef tank every day because of the activities of the organisms present. Some are producing CO2 as a waste product of metabolism, including all organisms in the dark.

Those that photosynthesize consume CO2 during the day. As a consequence, the pCO2 rises during the night and declines during the day. This change in pCO2 is largely responsible for the pH fluctuation over the course of a day. For all of these reasons, a tank may move between the red and green lines of Figure 2 or further in extreme cases without the alkalinity changing at all.

Typical diurnal pH fluctuations in a reef tank and in some natural lagoons, for that matter are about 0.

ph and alkalinity relationship

For tanks with a larger fluctuation than about 0. This minimization is best accomplished by maximizing the gas exchange between the tank and "normal" air through better circulation, better aeration through devices such as skimmers, having part of the tank system, such as a refugium, on a reverse photocycle so some organisms are always photosynthesizing, or by more rapidly exchanging the room air with exterior air.

One can also impact the diurnal pH fluctuation by adding high pH additives like limewater or other high pH alkalinity additives during the nightly pH minimum, and by adding low pH additives like sodium bicarbonate during the daily pH maximum. The magnitude of the alkalinity itself, of course, can influence pH stability, and that is the focus of the next section.

What is "Buffering" Buffer and buffering are terms that are thrown around indiscriminately in the world of reefkeeping, and the actual meaning of these terms is often lost. Many aquarists refer to any alkalinity supplement as a buffer, but this isn't the case.

For example, neither sodium bicarbonate nor sodium carbonate, taken alone, is a true buffer. A buffer is something that helps minimize pH changes in the presence of added acid or base. No buffer can completely stop the pH from changing when acid or base is added. The change in pH, however, is made smaller when an appropriate buffer is used. A buffer is almost always comprised of two different chemical entities.

Chemistry And The Aquarium: The Relationship Between Alkalinity And pH

Bicarbonate and carbonate together, for example, form a buffer in the pH range from about 8 to 11 in seawater, though the buffering is best between about 8. Here's what is happening on a chemical level.

ph and alkalinity relationship

When a base such as OH- is added to the system in an effort to raise pHsome of the bicarbonate is converted to carbonate. This process effectively "uses up" some of the OH- that was added, and the pH does not rise as much as it would without the "buffer".

At about pH 8.

ph and alkalinity relationship

At lower pH, there is less CO, and at pH 8. Consequently, seawater is not especially well buffered against substantial pH drops when the pH is already less than 8. It is, however, well buffered against substantial pH rises.

ph and alkalinity relationship

Here's an actual experiment. The results of an immediate pH measurement before atmospheric carbon dioxide has a chance to equilibrate are: This result shows that the water is better buffered against a pH rise than a pH drop, and the reason for this difference is simply that there is more bicarbonate than carbonate at pH 8.

The only reason that the drop stops at pH 6. Nevertheless, there is much more to fully understanding how a buffer works. Chemists have chosen the term "buffer intensity" symbolized by b to reflect the buffering capacity of a solution at any given pH.