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1. WO1997041429 - DISPOSITIF SERVANT A DETECTER LA CONDUCTIVITE ET LE pH D'UN ECOULEMENT DE LIQUIDE

Note: Texte fondé sur des processus automatiques de reconnaissance optique de caractères. Seule la version PDF a une valeur juridique

[ EN ]

FLOW THROUGH FLUID PH AND CONDUCTIVITY SENSOR

Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to a sensor of pH and conductivity in a fluid, and more particularly, to a sensor for pH and conductivity which allows a liquid under pressure to flow through one or more cells which measure pH and conductivity of the liquid.

Background of the Invention
Generally, the sampling of liquids to determine its pH and conductivity (or ionic concentration) is accomplished using batch processing. A sample of the liquid to be tested is placed within a container and probes, sensors, or other measuring devices inserted therein to detect the pH and conductivity of the fluid. However, measuring both the pH and
conductivity of a fluid using this type of batch processing may be time consuming and may yield time delayed results. Therefore, when it is necessary to test fluids flowing through a system, batch
processing may provide pH and conductivity results which do not accurately reflect the current pH and/or conductivity of the fluid within the system.

It is therefore desirable to achieve a dual functioning pH and conductivity sensor for liquids which allows liquids which are the subject of a processing system or the like to flow therethrough thereby measuring pH and conductivity on a continual, real-time basis.
It is also desirable to achieve such a dual functioning pH and conductivity sensor which allows for optimal sensing of the fluid.

Summary of the Invention
The aforementioned advantages may be achieved by using the dual functioning pH and conductivity sensor for liquids constructed in accordance with the principles of the present invention.
The sensor includes a housing having a pH cell and/or conductivity cell therein. A fluid inlet and outlet are disposed within the pH cell and define a pH fluid flow path therebetween. An aperture is located within the pH cell and is adapted to receive an electronic pH probe therein. The aperture is configured to position an end of the electronic pH probe having a pH sensing area therein in
juxtaposition to the pH fluid flow path so that fluid flowing within the fluid flow path is exposed to the pH sensing area of the pH sensor. The sensor may also include a conductivity cell adapted for
placement of the conductivity sensor therein. The conductivity sensor may be disposed between a fluid inlet and outlet of the conductivity cell so that fluid flowing from the fluid inlet through the conductivity cell and out the fluid outlet contacts the conductivity sensor. The pH cell fluid outlet may be in fluid flow relationship to the conductivity cell fluid inlet so that fluid flowing from the pH cell fluid outlet will then flow into the
conductivity cell fluid inlet.
A means for retaining the pH probe within the pH cell may include a threaded area on the housing adapted to receive a retaining nut therein. The retaining nut may have an aperture for receiving the electronic pH probe therethrough. An 0-ring may be disposed on a lip of the pH probe and contact a ridge within the pH fluid cell to form a liquid tight seal when the pH probe is inserted into the aperture of the pH cell.
The fluid flow path may be defined by the end of the electronic pH probe having a pH sensing area inserted into the receptacle and by an end wall of the pH cell. A first portion of the pH fluid flow path starting from the pH cell fluid inlet and ending a point juxtaposed to the pH sensing area of the pH sensing probe progressively expands in width. A second portion of the flow path starting from a point juxtaposed to the pH sensing area and ending at said pH cell fluid outlet progressive decreases in width. A portion of the end wall defining the flow path may be oriented at an angle, preferably of 12°. A second portion of the end wall defining the flow path may be oriented at a second angle, preferably a -12°.
The conductivity sensor may include a positive electrode and a negative electrode, the electrodes being separated by a gap therebetween. The
conductivity sensor may be disposed to allow a liquid from within the conductivity cell to flow through the conductivity cell fluid inlet and into the gap between the electrodes. Each of the electrodes may comprise a cylinder having an aperture extending therethrough. The aperture may be disposed to allow liquid flowing within the conductivity cell to flow therethrough and into the gap, and the electrodes may be disposed so that the apertures of each electrode are coaxially aligned. Also, the apertures may be coaxially aligned with the conductivity cell fluid inlet and conductivity cell fluid outlet so that fluid flows in a stream along an axis through the conductivity sensors and gap therebetween.
A means for supporting the electrodes within the conductivity cell may also be included. The means may comprise a molded part having a first receptacle in juxtaposition to a second receptacle. The
receptacles may be oriented to maintain the axial alignment between the apertures of the electrodes and to maintain the gap between the electrodes . The apertures may extend through the center of the cylindrically shaped electrodes, and the molded part may contain an aperture between the receptacles at an area defined by said gap to allow fluid to flow therethrough.
The conductivity sensor may also include a means for sealing the conductivity sensor in the
conductivity cell . The sealing means may include a pair of O-rings; each of the pair being disposed about the electrodes to prevent fluid from flowing outside of the apertures. The O-rings may contact the top surface of the conductivity cell and a bottom surface of the conductivity cell, respectively. Each electrode may also include a means for connecting an electrical conductor thereto. The means may be a hollow post, brazed to a cylindrical portion of the electrode . A cap may be adapted to cover an opening in the housing leading to the conductivity cell; the conductivity cell may be filled with a potting material .
The invention may also include a method of measuring pH and/or conductivity. The method
includes flowing the fluid into a pH cell fluid inlet, widening the stream of fluid and making it more shallow as it passes a pH sensing area of the electronic pH probe so that the stream covers the sensing area, and sensing the pH of the fluid within the stream covering the sensing area.
The method may also include flowing the fluid into a conductivity cell wherein the conductivity of the fluid is measured. The fluid may be flowed in a stream into a gap located between the electrodes of a conductivity sensor within the conductivity cell .

Brief Description of the Drawings
The invention may readily be understood by reading the detailed description together with the corresponding drawings in which:
Figure 1 depicts a sectional view from the side of a pH and conductivity sensor for liquids
constructed in accordance with the principles of the present invention;
Figure 2A depicts a side view of the housing of the sensor depicted in Figure 1 and constructed in accordance with the principles of the present
invention;
Figure 2B depicts a front view of the housing depicted in Figure 2A;
Figure 2C depicts an end view of the housing depicted in Figures 2A and 2B;
Figure 2D depicts a top view of the housing depicted in Figures 2A, 2B and 2C;
Figure 2E depicts a top view of the pH cell third inlet within the housing depicted in Figures 2A, 2B, 2C and 2D;
Figure 3A depicts a sectional view from line A-A of the housing depicted in Figure 2D;
Figure 3B depicts a sectional view of the pH cell fluid inlet and outlet within the housing depicted in Figure 3A;
Figure 4 depicts an isometric view of the housing depicted in Figures 1, 2A-2D, 3A and 3B;
Figure 5A depicts a pH probe insertable within the housing as shown in Figures 2A, 2D, 2E, 3A and 3B;
Figure 5B depicts an end view of the pH probe depicted in Figure 5A;
Figure 6A depicts an end view of an end cap attachable to an opening within the conductivity cell of the housing as depicted in Figure 1 ;
Figure 6B depicts a side view of the end cap of Figure 6A;
Figure 6C depicts a side view of the end cap of Figures 6A and 6B;
Figure 7A depicts one electrode of the
conductivity sensor insertable within the
conductivity cell of the housing as depicted in
Figure 1;
Figure 7B depicts a side view of the electrode depicted in Figure 7A.

Detailed Description of the Drawings
Referring to Figure 1, a combination pH and conductivity sensor for liquids is shown. The sensor includes a housing 1, an electronic pH probe 3, and a conductivity sensor 5. The housing 1 is divided into two cells, a pH cell 7 wherein the pH probe 3 is inserted, and a conductivity cell 9 wherein the conductivity sensor 5 is inserted.
In the embodiment shown in Figure 1, the pH cell 7 is separated from, and faces opposite to, the conductivity cell 9. The conductivity sensor 5 is maintained within the conductivity cell 9 between a pair of ribs 11, 13. A pH cell fluid inlet 19 and a fluid outlet 21 allow fluid to flow into and out of the pH cell, respectively. Located between the fluid inlet 19 and fluid outlet 21 is a fluid flow path 23 within the pH cell 7. A compression fitting 25 is affixed to the housing 1 to allow fluid from an inlet tube 27 to flow into the pH cell fluid inlet 19 through the fluid flow path 23 and out of the fluid outlet 21 of the pH cell 7. As fluid flows through the flow area 23 it flows in front of a sensing area 26 of the electronic pH sensor 3 where the pH of the fluid is sensed. The sensing area 26 of the pH sensor as depicted in Figure 5B is preferably covered with glass to accurately read the pH of the fluid flowing thereby when the pH sensor 3 is mounted into the pH cell 7 as is shown in Figure 1. An 0-ring 55 as depicted in Figures 1, 5A and 5B is mounted about a lip of the pH sensor 3 to effectively seal the pH cell 7 and prevent fluid from leaking thereout.
A conductivity cell fluid inlet 31 and a fluid outlet 33 allow fluid to flow into the conductivity cell and out of the conductivity cell 9,
respectively. A compression fitting 25 is located onto the housing to allow fluid to flow into the fluid inlet 31. An intermediate tube 29 places the pH cell fluid outlet 21 in fluid flow relationship to the conductivity cell fluid inlet 31 using
compression fittings so that fluid will flow from the pH cell to the conductivity cell. Fluid flowing into the inlet 31 of the conductivity cell will then flow past the conductivity sensor 5 where its conductivity will be sensed and then out of the conductivity cell fluid outlet 33 through an outlet tube 35 affixed thereto by another compression fitting. The
conductivity sensor 5 is sized to fit tightly between the ribs 11, 13 within the conductivity cell. A pair of electrical conductors 37, 39 lead from the
conductivity sensor out of the conductivity cell 9 through an aperture 41. The aperture is formed between an end cap 43 and a portion of the housing 1 defining the conductivity cell 9.
The sensor housing is capable of receiving fluid under pressure from the inlet tube 27 leading to the pH cell where the pH sensor 3 will sense the pH of the fluid. Thereafter, fluid will flow via the intermediate tube 29 into the conductivity cell 9 where the conductivity of the fluid will be sensed by the conductivity sensor 5 before exiting the sensor through the outlet tube 35. The pH sensor 3 is affixed to the housing 1 by a retaining nut 15 which is threadably engaged to a threaded section 17 at the opening of the pH cell . The retaining nut has an aperture therethrough within which the pH sensor is inserted. A ring 16, through which the pH sensor is also inserted, is located between the threaded section and the retaining nut 15
Referring to Figures 2A-2E, the particulars of the housing 1, will now be described. The pH chamber 7 contains an opening or aperture therein which receives the pH probe 3 (as shown in Figure 1) . As shown in Figure 2A, the cross-sectional area of the pH chamber 7 is configured to receive the body of the pH probe so that there is a snug fit therebetween. Referring to Figure 2C, the cross-sectional
configuration of the conductivity cell 9 is shown. Ribs 11, 13 protrude from the top and bottom thereof, respectively. The conductivity sensor 5 fits between the ribs 11, 13, as shown in Figure 1, and is held therein by friction therebetween.
Referring to Figure 2B, the interior of the pH cell is shown. A flow area, generally referred to as 45, extends between the fluid inlet 19 and fluid outlet 21. Both the inlet and outlet are,
preferably, of .060 inches in diameter. The flow area near the fluid inlet 19 is generally narrower than the flow area near the center point 46 of pH chamber. The flow area is widest at the center point 46 of the pH chamber 7. The center point 46 is aligned and coaxial with the center of the reading area 26 of the pH probe 3 (see Figure 1) . The flow area below the center 46 of the pH cell 7
progressively narrows until it reaches the fluid outlet 21. This flow area 45 configuration
effectively allows fluid flowing through the inlet 19, which is preferably of circular cross-section as shown in Figure 2E, to spread out progressively wider as the fluid falls downward towards the center 46 of the pH cell 7 adjacent to the reading area 25 (Figure 1) . Therefore, fluid flowing through the inlet 19 will progressively widen while becoming shallower until reaching the center point 46 when the fluid will thereafter narrow and become deeper until it reaches the outlet 21.
Figure 2E depicts the width of the flow area 45 at its widest point adjacent to the sensing area of the pH probe 3 within the pH cell 7. The width of the flow area 45 corresponds to the diameter of the sensing area represented by dimension "a", preferably .250 inches. Referring to Figures 3A and 3B, as the fluid flows past this center point 46, it then enters the lower portion of the flow area 45 where the fluid progressively narrows until it reaches the fluid outlet 21, which is preferably of circular cross- section. Fluid will decrease in velocity as it progresses towards the center of the flow area 45. This occurs because the volume of the flow area 45 progressively increases towards the center thereof. Since at the center portion of the flow area adjacent to the sensing area 25 of the pH sensor 3 (shown in Figure 1) the fluid stream is widest, it is flowing at its lowest velocity so that the pH sensor 3 may accurately sense the pH of the fluid flowing
therebefore. As fluid flows past the sensing area 25, the volume of the flow area 45 progressively decreases therefore progressively increasing the fluid flow rate until the fluid exits the pH cell 7 through the fluid outlet 21. The widest cross-sectional fluid flow area at central point 46 near the sensing area 26 should be less than or equal to between one and two times the cross sectional flow area at the pH cell fluid inlet 19. However, the area at the sensing area should preferably be about one and one half times the area of the inlet.
Referring still to Figures 3A and 3B, the flow area 45 contains an angled wall 47 which comprises a portion of a wall defining the pH cell 7. The wall extends at an angle, preferably of twelve degrees, from a point 49 juxtaposed to the top edge of the sensing area 26 the pH probe located between point 49 and point 51. This portion of the wall juxtaposed to the sensing area 26 of the pH probe 3 is not angled and is parallel to the sensing area 26. Preferably, the space between this portion of the wall and the sensing area is, preferably, .020 inches. However, the portion of the wall below this opposite point 51 extends in a reverse angle, preferably -12° until it reaches fluid outlet 21. The configuration of the flow area (as depicted in Figures 2B, 2E and 3B) increases the ability of the pH sensor 3 to provide optimal pH readings of fluid flowing past the sensing area 25. Accordingly, greater accuracy in pH
readings of various fluid may be achieved through such a configuration.
Referring to Figures 2A and 2D, a means for mounting the sensor 1 is shown. A pair of channels 53, 55 are formed on the top side and bottom side of the sensor, respectively, to allow fasteners to be inserted therein. A pair of flanges 60 as shown in

Figure 2D, protrude from one side of the sensor 1 and are parallel to the channels 53, 55 to effectively increase the length of these channels. However, the flanges 60 may be omitted, as shown in Figure 4, if desired.
Referring now to Figure 1 and Figures 7A-8C, the various components of the conductivity sensor 5 will now be described. A pair of electrodes, 57, 59, shown in Figure 1, are oriented such that a gap 61 is located therebetween. Preferably, the gap should be .050 inches and maintained at this distance to provide accurate and precise readings of the
conductivity of fluid which flows between this gap. Each electrode is configured as shown in Figures 7A and 7B . A cylindrical portion 63 contains an
aperture 65 in the center thereof and extending completely therethrough. A post 67 extends,
preferably perpendicularly, from the cylindrical portion 63 and is adapted to receive an electrical conductor therein. Preferably, the post is hollow so that an electrical conductor can be inserted therein and preferably soldered. The post is typically silver-brazed to the electrode to provide for
sufficient conductivity therebetween.
A mold 72 may be used as a means for supporting the electrodes within the conductivity cell. as shown in Figures 8A-8C, the mold 72 is configured to receive a pair of identical electrodes having
cylindrical shapes therein such that the electrodes are diametrically opposed to one another when placed within the mold as shown in Figure 1. The mold contains a top receptacle 71 which has a cylindrical section for receiving a first electrode therein and a bottom receptacle 73 which also has a cylindrical section for receiving a second electrode therein.
Between the receptacles 57, 59 is an aperture 75 which coaxially aligns with the apertures 65 in each of the electrodes 71, 73 thereby forming a continuous bore 77 through the mold and electrodes therein.
Within the top receptacle 71 of the mold exists a lip 79 at a top end thereof. A similar lip 81 is located at the lower end of the mold at the bottom receptacle 73. An 0-ring 83 fits in the top receptacle on a lip 79 thereof, as shown in Figure 1. A second O-ring 85 sits on the lip of the bottom receptacle 73, also as shown in Figure 1. When the conductivity sensor is fully assembled and inserted into the conductivity cell as shown in Figure 1, these O-rings create a seal between the mold and the ribs 11, 13,
respectively, to prevent fluid flowing within the conductivity cell from leaking therefrom. The 0-rings allow fluid to flow into the continuous bore 77 and between the electrode gap where the conductivity thereof can be sensed prior to the fluid flowing through the outlet 33 of the conductivity cell and eventually through the outlet tube 35.
As shown in Figure 1, an end cap 43 fits into the opening leading into the conductivity cell 9 thereby closing the same. Referring to Figures 6A-6C, a pair of wings 84, 86, protruding from the edges of the end cap 43 are sized and oriented to be received by a pair of receiving means such as
apertures 87, 89, respectively. The receiving means receives the wings and prevents the cap from being removed from the conductivity cell 9 without
manipulation of the wings 84, 86. One or more studs may be located on the inner surface of the end cap to align the end cap within the opening of the
conductivity cell 9. Referring to Figure 1 and 6B, a protrusion 95 extends from one side of the end cap 43 into a window 97 to form an aperture 41. This allows the electrical conductors 37, 41 each of which are preferably insulated and extend from the post of an electrode 57, 59, respectively, to pass through the aperture 41 and connect to an electronic device. A potting material is placed within the conductivity cell to seal the entire contents thereof.
During use, the sensor, may be mounted in any convenient location where fluid can flow therethrough for sensing of the pH and conductivity thereof.
Fluid should be flowed through the inlet tube 27 where it will then flow into the pH chamber 7 and flow area 23 therein. As fluid passes the sensing area 25 of the pH probe 3, the pH probe
electronically senses the pH of the fluid. The pH probe, available from Sensorex of 11661 Seaboard Circle, Stanton, California, 90680, may be connected to a computer or other electronic device for
converting the electrical signal therefrom into a pH reading. The pH reading may be continuously
monitored so that instantaneous real time readings of the pH flowing through the flow area 23,
corresponding to the pH within the fluid being tested, may be obtained.
The same fluid will then flow through the intermediate tube 29 and into the inlet 31 of the conductivity cell 9. Fluid will flow through the continuous bore 77 extending through the pH sensor assembly 5. The electrical conductors 91, 93
connected to each electrode of the conductivity sensor are coupled to an electronic device which converts the electronic signals therefrom into a value representing the physical property of
conductivity. The general concept of measuring the conductivity of a fluid using a pair of electrodes is well known in the art. However, using the principles herein, the conductivity of the fluid flowing between the electrodes of the conductivity sensor may be continuously monitored and measured. After
measurement of the conductivity, fluid will flow through the outlet tube and the either discarded or returned to its supply. Using the invention
described herein, the pH and conductivity of various types of fluids used in various types of applications and in many different purposes may be monitored for pH and conductivity. The invention may be highly applicable in the biological science industry where the measurement of pH and conductivity for small volume of fluids is necessary. However, the
invention is not limited to this type of application. Although the invention has been described in connection with the embodiment depicted herein, various modifications and substitutions may be made to this embodiment without departing in any way from the scope of the invention as defined by the
following claims.