Oxygen Analyzers

In the aquatic life cycle, oxygen plays a critical role. If the water is transparent, algae and other plant life generate oxygen as they build their body cells through photosynthesis. The other half of this cycle is respiration, in which bacteria and other animal life forms consume algae and other larger organic molecules while using the dissolved oxygen (DO) in the water and exhaling carbon dioxide. Therefore, two kinds of oxygen measurements are required in the operation of wastewater treatment plants:

The DO concentration of receiving waters must be monitored because the DO amount signals the life-supporting capacity of water. When the DO content drops to zero, the water body can no longer support aerobic life, bacteria and other animals suffocate, and the water becomes an open sewer.

The second oxygen measurement is made on the waste-water effluent discharged into receiving water. Here, the measurement determines the amount of damage that the discharged effluent will do to the receiving water. This damage is measured in the milligrams of DO that a liter of effluent will take from the receiving water, as bacteria decomposes the organic material in the effluent. This measurement is called the BOD of the wastewater effluent.

In addition to measuring the oxygen demand biologically (by bacteria), environmental engineers can measure it chemically; this demand is called COD. Environmental engineers also measure the carbon content of the effluent using total carbon analyzers or total organic carbon analyzers.

This section briefly discusses the use of in-place probes versus sampling and sample filtering versus homogeniza-tion. Then it describes DO detection probes and lists BOD and other oxygen demand sensors.

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