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Ammonium Ion-Selective Electrode User Manual

Order Code: NH4-BTA

The Vernier Ammonium Ion-Selective Electrode is used to measure the concentration of ammonium (NH4+) ions in aqueous samples.

Note: Vernier products are designed for educational use. Our products are not designed nor are they recommended for any industrial, medical, or commercial process such as life support, patient diagnosis, control of a manufacturing process, or industrial testing of any kind.

What's Included

  • Ammonium Ion-Selective Electrode, packed in a storage bottle
  • 30 mL bottle of High Standard solution with SDS (100 mg/L NH4+ as N)
  • 30 mL bottle of Low Standard solution with SDS (1 mg/L NH4+ as N)
  • Short-Term ISE Soaking Bottle

Compatible Software

Choose a platform below to see its compatibility requirements.

LabQuest
InterfaceLabQuest App
LabQuest 3Full support
LabQuest 2 (discontinued)Full support
LabQuest (discontinued)Full support
Computers
Software
InterfaceGraphical Analysis App for Computers
Version 5.4
Logger Pro
Version 3.16
Logger Lite
Version 1.9.4
LabQuest MiniFull supportFull supportFull support
LabQuest 3Full supportFull supportIncompatible
LabQuest 2 (discontinued)Full supportFull supportFull support
LabQuest StreamFull support 1Full supportFull support 1
Go!LinkFull supportFull supportFull support
LabQuest (discontinued)Full supportFull supportFull support
LabPro (discontinued)IncompatibleFull supportFull support

Compatibility Notes

  1. Connect LabQuest Stream via USB. Wireless connection is not supported.
Chromebook
Software
InterfaceGraphical Analysis App for Chrome
Version 5.4
LabQuest MiniFull support
LabQuest 3Full support
LabQuest 2 (discontinued)Full support
LabQuest StreamFull support 1
Go!LinkFull support
LabQuest (discontinued)Full support

Compatibility Notes

  1. Connect LabQuest Stream via USB. Wireless connection is not supported.
iOS
Software
InterfaceGraphical Analysis App for iOS
Version 5.4
Graphical Analysis GW for iOS
Version 4.0.6
LabQuest StreamFull supportFull support
LabQuest 3Full support 1Full support 1
LabQuest 2 (discontinued)Full support 1Full support 1

Compatibility Notes

  1. iOS and Android devices can only connect to LabQuest 2 or LabQuest 3 via Wireless Data Sharing.
Android
Software
InterfaceGraphical Analysis App for Android
Version 5.4
Graphical Analysis GW for Android
Version 3.2
LabQuest StreamFull supportIncompatible
LabQuest 3Full support 1Full support 1
LabQuest 2 (discontinued)Full support 1Full support 1

Compatibility Notes

  1. iOS and Android devices can only connect to LabQuest 2 or LabQuest 3 via Wireless Data Sharing.
Arduino
Software
InterfaceArduino
Vernier Arduino® Interface ShieldFull support 1

Compatibility Notes

  1. Requires advanced programming for data collection
LabVIEW
Software
InterfaceNI LabVIEW
SensorDAQ (discontinued)Full support 1
Vernier myDAQ AdapterFull support 1 2
Go!LinkFull support 1
LabQuest MiniFull support
LabQuest StreamFull support
LabQuest 3Full support
LabQuest 2 (discontinued)Full support
LabQuest (discontinued)Full support

Compatibility Notes

  1. Requires advanced programming for data collection
  2. You can only read the raw count/raw voltage output by this sensor. You must do the programming to convert to proper sensor units.
Texas Instruments
Software
InterfaceEasyData
Version 2.4/4.0/5.2
DataMate
Version 1.15
TI-84 SmartViewDataQuest
Version 4.2
TI-Nspire Software
EasyLinkFull support 1IncompatibleFull support 2Full supportFull support 2
CBL 2Full support 3Full support 3 4IncompatibleIncompatibleIncompatible
LabPro (discontinued)Full support 3Full support 3 4IncompatibleIncompatibleIncompatible
TI-Nspire Lab Cradle (discontinued)IncompatibleIncompatibleIncompatibleFull supportFull support

Compatibility Notes

  1. Use with TI-84 Plus calculators only.
  2. Requires an Easy to Go! adapter
  3. CBL 2 and LabPro interfaces cannot be used with TI-84 Plus CE calculators.
  4. DataMate cannot be used with color screen TI-84 Plus calculators; use EasyData with these calculators.

Getting Started

  1. Prepare the electrode by soaking it in the High Standard solution for 30 minutes. Refer to the next section for more information.
  2. Connect the sensor to the interface (LabQuest Mini, LabQuest 3, etc.)
  3. Start the appropriate data-collection software (Graphical Analysis, LabQuest App, Logger Pro) if not already running. The software will identify the sensor and load a default data-collection setup.
  4. Perform a two-point calibration using the High and Low Standard solutions. Refer to the next section for more information.

If you are collecting data using a Chromebook™, mobile device such as iPad® or Android™ tablet, or a Vernier wireless sensor or interface, please see the following link for up-to-date connection information:

www.vernier.com/start/nh4-bta

Note: Follow this two-part process before taking measurements with your ISE.

Preparing the Ammonium ISE for Use

Note: Follow this two-part process before taking measurements with your ISE.

Part I: Soak the Electrode

Soak the electrode in the High Standard solution (included with the ISE) for approximately 30 minutes. The ISE should not rest on the bottom of the container, and the small white reference contacts near the tip of the electrode should be immersed. Make sure no air bubbles are trapped below the ISE. Important: Do not leave the ISE soaking for more than 24 hours. Important: If you plan to use the electrode outside the range of the standards provided, you will need to prepare your own standards and use those for soaking.

Note: If the ISE needs to be transported to the field during the soaking process, use the Short-Term ISE Soaking Bottle. Remove the cap from the bottle and fill it 3/4 full with High Standard. Slide the bottle’s cap onto the ISE, insert it into the bottle, and tighten.

For long term storage, greater than 24 hours, make sure the sensor is stored in its storage bottle with the sponge slightly damp.

Part II: Calibrate the ISE

Calibrating the Ammonium ISE in Graphical Analysis 4

  1. Connect the sensor according to the Getting Started section.
  2. Click or tap the live readouts meter and choose Calibrate.
  3. High Standard Calibration Point: The Ammonium ISE should still be soaking in the High Standard. The ISE should not rest on the bottom of the container, and the 2 small white reference contacts near the tip of the electrode should be immersed. Make sure no air bubbles are trapped below the ISE.
  4. Enter the concentration value of the High Standard (e.g., 100 for 100 mg/L) in the edit box and click or tap Keep.
  5. Low Standard Calibration Point: Remove the ISE from the High Standard, rinse well with distilled water, and gently blot the ISE dry with a paper towel. Place the ISE into the Low Standard. Make sure the ISE is not resting on the bottom of the container, the white reference contacts near the tip of the electrode are immersed, and no air bubbles are trapped below the ISE.
  6. Enter the concentration value for the Low Standard (e.g., 1 for 1 mg/L) and click or tap Keep .
  7. Click or tap Apply to complete the calibration process.

Calibrating the Ammonium ISE in Logger Pro 3

  1. Connect the sensor according to the Getting Started section.
  2. Choose Calibrate from the Experiment menu and then click .
  3. High Standard Calibration Point: The Ammonium ISE should still be soaking in the High Standard. The ISE should not rest on the bottom of the container, and the 2 small white reference contacts near the tip of the electrode should be immersed. Make sure no air bubbles are trapped below the ISE.
  4. Enter the concentration value of the High Standard (e.g., 100 for 100 mg/L) in the edit box.
  5. After the voltage reading for Reading 1 stabilizes (~2 minutes), click .
  6. Low Standard Calibration Point: Remove the ISE from the High Standard, rinse well with distilled water, and gently blot the ISE dry with a paper towel. Place the ISE into the Low Standard. Make sure the ISE is not resting on the bottom of the container, the white reference contacts near the tip of the electrode are immersed, and no air bubbles are trapped below the ISE.
  7. Enter the concentration value for the Low Standard (e.g., 1 for 1 mg/L).
  8. After the voltage reading stabilizes, click .
  9. To save the calibration to the sensor, follow the steps below:
    1. Click the Calibration Storage tab at the top of the dialog box.
    2. Click . Click .
    3. Click  to continue. Click  to complete the process.

Calibrating the Ammonium ISE with LabQuest App

  1. Connect the sensor according to the Getting Started section.
  2. High Standard Calibration Point: The Ammonium ISE should still be soaking in the High Standard. The ISE should not rest on the bottom of the container, and the small white reference contacts near the tip of the electrode should be immersed. Make sure no air bubbles are trapped below the ISE.
  3. Enter the concentration of the High Standard (e.g., 100 for 100 mg/L) for Reading 1.
  4. After the voltage reading stabilizes (~2 minutes), tap Keep.
  5. Low Standard Calibration Point: Remove the ISE from the High Standard, rinse well with distilled water, and gently blot the ISE dry with a paper towel. Place the ISE into the Low Standard. Make sure the ISE is not resting on the bottom of the container, the white reference contacts near the tip of the electrode are immersed, and no air bubbles are trapped below the ISE.
  6. Enter the concentration of the Low Standard (e.g., 1 for 1 mg/L) for
    Reading 2.
  7. After the voltage reading stabilizes, tap Keep.
  8. To save the calibration to the sensor, follow the steps below:
    1. Tap Storage.
    2. Tap Save Calibration to Sensor. Tap OK.
    3. Tap OK to complete the process.

Using the Product

The Ammonium Ion-Selective Electrode (ISE) can be used to determine concentrations of NH4+ ions in aqueous solutions, in units of mg/L, ppm, or mol/L. Concentrations of aqueous ammonium ions should not be mistaken for concentration of aqueous ammonia, or NH3(aq). The concentrations of these two species, though different, are often involved in the same equilibrium reaction:

Reaction 1: NH3(aq) + H+(aq) ↔ NH4+ (aq)

In a more acidic environment, higher concentrations of H+ ions will cause this reaction to shift toward the right, resulting in higher concentrations of NH4+. In a more basic (alkaline) environment, the concentration of NH4+ will be lower, causing the reaction to shift toward the reactants, producing higher concentrations of NH3. At pH values greater than 10 (see Figure 1), most of the ammonium ions will be converted to ammonia. At pH values less than 7.5, most of the aqueous ammonia will be converted to ammonium ions.

Sampling Freshwater Samples for Ammonium Concentration

While permissible levels of ammonium in drinking water should not exceed
0.5 mg/L, streams or ponds near heavily fertilized fields may have higher concentrations of this ion. Fertilizers containing ammonium sulfate, (NH4)2SO4, or ammonium nitrate, NH4NO3, may result in runoff from fields containing higher levels of the ammonium ion, NH4+. Monitoring ammonium levels on a stream that borders fertilized fields may show significant seasonal differences in NH4+ concentrations. In this kind of study, you may also take pH measurements in your water samples; as indicated in the previous paragraph, higher or lower pH values can greatly affect the ratio of NH4+ / NH3 in a sample. Since the Ammonium ISE measures only NH4+ levels, you may want to adjust your samples to the same pH value each time you make measurements; this may not be necessary if you have relatively “hard” water. Hard water is naturally buffered against changes in pH.

Expressing Ammonium Concentration

Concentrations of ammonium are often expressed in units of mg/L NH4+ as N. Here is a calculation for a 100 mg/L NH4+ as N standard solution that is prepared by adding solid NH4Cl to distilled water:

How Can I Have My ISE Read mV Output Instead of mg/L?

The amplification equation is: V = 0.00727*mV + 1.223

Therefore, the reverse amplification equation, solving for mV, would be:

mV = 137.55*V – 0.1682

Collecting Data

  1. Make sure the sensor is properly calibrated. If the meter has a reading of

    1.0 mg/L and the sensor is not in a 1.0 mg/L solution, you need to calibrate. After calibration, rinse off the tip of the ISE and blot it dry with a paper towel.
  2. Insert the tip of the ISE into the aqueous sample to be tested. Important: Make sure the ISE is not resting on the bottom of the container, the white reference contacts near the tip of the electrode are immersed, and no air bubbles are trapped below the ISE. Note: Do not completely submerge the sensor. The handle is not waterproof.
  3. Hold the ISE still until the reading stabilizes and record the displayed reading. Note: With some aqueous samples, especially those at high concentrations, it could take several minutes for the reading of the Ammonium ISE to stabilize. If you know the approximate concentrations of your samples, it is best to analyze them from lowest concentration to highest.

Using the Ammonium ISE with Other Vernier Sensors

Some combinations of sensors interfere with each other when placed in the same solution. The degree of interference depends on many factors. For more information, see www.vernier.com/til/638/

Using Ionic Strength Adjustor (ISA) Solutions to Improve Accuracy

For optimal results at low concentrations of ions, a standard method for making measurements with the Ammonium Ion-Selective Electrode (ISE) is to add ionic strength adjustor (ISA) solutions to each of your standard solutions and samples.

Adding an ISA ensures that the total ion activity in each solution being measured is nearly equal, regardless of the specific ion concentration. This is especially important when measuring very low concentrations of specific ions. The ISA contains no ions common to the ISE itself. Note: The addition of ISA to samples or standards does not need to be highly accurate. You can add the ISA solution dropwise to a sample using a disposable plastic Beral pipet. We recommend using 0.25 M magnesium acetate solution prepared in 0.5 M acetic acid solution as the ISA for the Ammonium ISE. To prepare this solution, dissolve 53.6 grams of magnesium acetate in sufficient 0.5 M acetic acid solution to make 1.0 liter. Commonly, ISA is added in a 1:50 ratio, or 1 mL of ISA added to 50 mL of water to be tested.

Videos

Specifications

Range

1 to 18,000 mg/L (or ppm)

Reproducibility (precision)

±10% of full scale (calibrated 1 to 100 mg/L)

Interfering ions

K+

pH range

4–7.5 (no pH compensation)

Temperature range

0–40°C (no temperature compensation)

Electrode slope

+56 ±4 mV/decade at 25°C

Calibration voltages, typical

High (100 mg/L) 2.1 V, Low 1.3 V (1 mg/L)

Electrode resistance

1 to 4 MΩ

Minimum sample size

must be submerged 1.1 in

Electrode length

155 mm

Body diameter

12 mm

Cap diameter

16 mm

Cable length

100 cm

Care and Maintenance

Storing the Ion-Selective Electrode

Proper care and storage are important for optimal longevity of your Ammonium ISE.

  • Long-term storage of the ISE (longer than 24 hours): Moisten the sponge in the bottom of the long-term storage bottle with distilled water. When you finish using the ISE, rinse it off with distilled water and blot it dry with a paper towel. Loosen the lid of the long-term storage bottle and insert the ISE. Note: The tip of the ISE should NOT touch the sponge. Also, make sure the white reference mark is inside the bottle. Tighten the lid. This will keep the electrode in a humid environment, which prevents the reference junctions from completely drying out.
  • Short-term wet storage (less than 24 hours): Fill the Short-Term ISE Soaking bottle 3/4 full with High Standard. Loosen the cap, insert the electrode into the bottle, and tighten.

Maintaining and Replacing the ISE Standard Calibration Solutions

Having accurate standard solutions is essential for performing good calibrations. The two standard solutions that were included with your ISE can last a long time if you take care not to contaminate them. At some point, you will need to replenish your supply of standard solutions. Vernier sells replacement standards in 500 mL volumes. Order codes are:

  • NH4-LST: Ammonium Low Standard, 1 mg/L
  • NH4-HST: Ammonium High Standard, 100 mg/L

To prepare your own standard solutions, use the information in the table below. Note: Use glassware designed for accurate volume measurements, such as volumetric flasks or graduated cylinders. All glassware must be very clean.

Standard Solution Concentration

(mg/L or ppm)
Preparation Method using High Quality Distilled Water

Ammonium (NH4+) High Standard

100 mg/L NH4+ as N

0.382 g NH4Cl/ 1 L solution

Ammonium (NH4+) Low Standard

1 mg/L NH4+ as N

Dilute the High Standard by a factor of 100 (from 100 mg/L to 1 mg/L).

Do not wrap the cable tightly around the sensor for storage. Repeatedly doing so can irreparably damage the wires and is not covered under warranty.

How the Sensor Works

The Vernier Ammonium Ion-Selective Electrode (ISE) is a membrane-based electrode that measures a specific ion (NH4+) in an aqueous solution. When the membrane of the electrode is in contact with a solution containing the specific ion, a voltage, dependent on the level of that ion in solution, develops at the membrane. The ISE is a combination style electrode. The voltage develops in relation to an internal Ag/AgCl reference electrode. The ISE measures for the specific ion concentration directly. Samples need to be aqueous to avoid contaminating or dissolving the membrane. The Vernier Ammonium Ion-Selective Electrode has a solid polymer membrane. The membrane is a porous plastic disk, permeable to the ion exchanger, but impermeable to water. It allows the sensing cell to contact the sample solution and separates the internal filling solution from the sample.

The voltage developed between the sensing and reference electrodes is a measure of the concentration of the reactive ion being measured. As the concentration of the ion reacting at the sensing electrode varies, so does the voltage measured between the two electrodes.

As described in the Nernst Equation, ISE response is a linear equation:

E = Eo + m(ln a)

where E is the measured voltage, Eo is the standard potential for the combination of the two half cells, m is the slope, ln is the natural logarithm, and a is the activity of the measured ion species.

Assuming the ionic strength is fairly constant, the Nernst equation may be rewritten to describe the electrode response to the concentration, C, of the measured ion species:

E = Eo + m(ln C)

Troubleshooting

For troubleshooting and FAQs, see www.vernier.com/til/1435

Repair Information

If you have watched the related product video(s), followed the troubleshooting steps, and are still having trouble with your Ammonium Ion-Selective Electrode, contact Vernier Technical Support at support@vernier.com or call 888-837-6437. Support specialists will work with you to determine if the unit needs to be sent in for repair. At that time, a Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) number will be issued and instructions will be communicated on how to return the unit for repair.

Accessories/Replacements

Ammonium ISE Replacement Membrane Modules

The Ammonium ISE has a PVC membrane module with a limited life expectancy. The module is warranted to be free from defects for a period of twelve (12) months from the date of purchase. It is possible, however, that a membrane module will work well after the warranty period. If you notice a reduced response (e.g., distinctly different voltages or voltage ranges during calibration), then it is probably time to replace the membrane module. Important: Do not order membrane modules far in advance; the process of degradation takes place even when the modules are stored on the shelf.

Additional Vernier Ion-Selective Electrodes

Vernier sells Ion-Selective Electrodes that measure the concentration of calcium (Ca2+), chloride (Cl), nitrate (NO3), and potassium (K+) ions in aqueous solutions.

Order codes are:

Item Order Code

Calcium Ion-Selective Electrode

CA-BTA

Chloride Ion-Selective Electrode

CL-BTA

Nitrate Ion-Selective Electrode

NO3-BTA

Potassium Ion-Selective Electrode

K-BTA

Electrode Storage Bottles, pkg of 5

BTL-ES

Standard High Ammonium ISE Solution

NH4-HST

Standard Low Ammonium ISE Solution

NH4-LST

Ammonium Replacement Module

NH4-MOD

Warranty

Warranty information for this product can be found on the Support tab at www.vernier.com/nh4-bta/#support

General warranty information can be found at www.vernier.com/warranty

Disposal

When disposing of this electronic product, do not treat it as household waste. Its disposal is subject to regulations that vary by country and region. This item should be given to an applicable collection point for the recycling of electrical and electronic equipment. By ensuring that this product is disposed of correctly, you help prevent potential negative consequences on human health or on the environment. The recycling of materials will help to conserve natural resources. For more detailed information about recycling this product, contact your local city office or your disposal service.

Battery recycling information is available at www.call2recycle.org

The symbol, shown here, indicates that this product must not be disposed of in a standard waste container.

Contact Support

Fill out our online support form or call us toll-free at 1-888-837-6437.

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