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Karl Fischer Titrators; How much reagent do I need?

By Hank Levi on Fri, May 20, 2011 @ 02:48 PM

This is a popular question for most operators using a coulometricKarl Fisher Reagents Karl Fischer titrator.  So let's get started.  There are two things to consider.  First, you have the chemical limitations of the reagents themselves.  Second, you have the user/operator variable. Sometimes changing the reagent has more to do with the condition of the reagent sitting in the vessel.  How full is the vessel after running numerous test? How long has the reagent been sitting in the vessel? How messy is the reagent and sample residue inside the vessel? Sometimes the user may simply want to replace the reagents because they look dirty/messy or their vessel is too full from adding samples during previous tests.

Setting aside those factors just mentioned, if we look at the reagents themselves and their capacity to measure moisture, we can come up with a general guideline as follows:

Note:  This example describes a Coulometric Karl Fischer Titrator with dual reagent setup (using Anolyte and Catholyte)

1.  In general and with regard to reagent brand, 100mL of Anolyte (AKA Anode- the reagent used in the vessel) reagent analyzes up to 1gram (1 million micro grams) of water.  20mL of Catholyte (AKA Cathode- the reagent used in the generator electrode/inner buret) reagent analyzes up to 1gram (1 million micro grams) of water.  The relationship according to the amount of water each reagent can analyze has a relationship of 100mL Anolyte to 20mL Catholyte – a 20% relationship of catholyte to anolyte.

2.  Anolyte is commonly purchased in 500ml bottles, Catholyte is commonly purchased in10x5mL ampules.

3.  A typical coulometric Karl Fischer titrator Vessel is charged with 75mL of anolyte and 1ea 5mL catholyte ampule.  Based on the 20% relationship it says that 3x5mL catholyte ampules would be used with each 75mL vessel charge of Anolyte.

4.  A 500mL bottle of Anolyte can charge the Coulometric Karl Fischer titrator vessel 6.6 times (round to 6 times to account for spillage).  3x5mL Catholyte ampules per charge of the vessel times 6 charges of the vessel = 18x5mL catholyte ampules.

Typically users do not expire the entire useful life of the reagents moisture measuring capability because of some of the factors I mentioned initially.  Another factor that I have to mention is that ambient moisture will require the coulometric Karl Fischer Titrator to maintain a dry vessel.  This process of keeping or getting the vessel in a ready to go mode can use some of the reagents useful life.  e.g. it’s not counting the moisture in your samples but that of the outside ambient moisture – for the most part this should be a small amount, but something to keep in mind and know about.

Learn more about Karl Fischer Titration

So, with all of this information, the question you may have is how long will my reagents last?  Well, that depends.  But, if you want to continue using the math we have already discussed, then, 1 charge of the vessel (75mL of anolyte with 3x5mL catholyte ampules) can measure 750,000 micro grams of water.

And, for those of you who think in Parts Per Million (PPM) you can translate into the  following:

PPM = micro grams of H2O detected / Your Sample Size (in grams)

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Calibrating Karl Fisher Titrators using water standards

By Hank Levi on Fri, May 20, 2011 @ 02:33 PM

“Calibrating” a Karl Fischer titrator is somewhat of a misnomer.MKC520 Karl Fisher Titrator What most operators are attempting to do is determine whether their Karl Fisher titrator is measuring moisture accurately.

A simple method is to run a water standard through the Karl Fischer Titrator like a normal direct injection test. Depending on the water standard you use, the result should equal a pre-determined level of moisture plus or minus a margin for error. These water standards are certified by the manufacturer (a certificate is included) to equal a precise level of moisture.

Learn more about the Karl Fischer 710 Series

We use Hydranal water standards. There are two kinds we typically use for coulometric Karl Fischer Titrators.

1) 0.1 normal

2) 1.0 normal.

The 0.1 normal administered at about 1mL should result in 100ppm (Parts Per Million) of moisture when measured. The acceptable result for this standard for the Karl Fischer titrator is +/- 10%. So your Karl Fischer Titrator should produce a reading between 90ppm and 110ppm to be in the acceptable range. If it is, you know your Karl Fischer Titrator is performing correctly.

Find more Coulometric Karl Fischer Titrator information

For the 1.0 normal everything is the same except the standard should result in 1,000ppm and your acceptable range is smaller at +/-3%. So your Karl Fischer Titrator should produce a reading between 970ppm and 1,030ppm.

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Karl Fisher Titration can be used to measure solid and liquid samples

By Hank Levi on Wed, May 11, 2011 @ 01:19 PM

We get this question a lot.  "How do you go about testing for moisture if the sample is in liquid form?..What about solid form?"

Well basically, moisture testing using the karl fischer method is a standard in the industry that measures down to the Parts per million (PPM) level.  The theoretical accuracy is down to 1 part per million level.  I say theoretical because usually any variance is due to atmospheric conditions and operator repeatability.  Specifically, and for this example, “coulometric” Karl Ficsher is best when you are using a small sample and expect and are trying to measure less than 1% (1%moisture =10,000PPM) of water (moisture/humidity) in your sample.  [Note: there is a volumetric Karl Fischer method vs. coulometric Karl Fisher method but for this discussion I am speaking from the coulometric Karl Fischer standpoint]

With this in mind,

A. If you are testing a liquid sample you only have to use the karl fischer titrator and directly inject the liquid sample with a syringe (usually around 1mL) into the vessel.

B. If you are testing a solid sample (that cannot be “broken down sufficiently with solvents like Xylene for example) you will use both the karl Fischer AND an evaporator oven.  The evaporator oven heats up the sample (usually the sample size is less than 1gram…we typically might use 1/10th of a gram..but then again we might use 3 grams -it really depends on how much moisture you expect to find). The evaporator is connected with a nitrogen gas source that is used to deliver the moisture via a heater tube on the evaporator into the titration vessel.

To see an actual demonstration of the Karl Fischer Titrator and the evaporator oven during an actual test please view the video below and watch the short 2 to 3 minute video.


To be sure there are many more things I could mention but this is a high level summary of the two approaches.

Hope this helps.

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