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Chemistry of Sea Water
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Preparation of Artificial Sea Water

It is impossible to prepare solutions that exactly duplicate the properties of sea water because (1) the ions (salts) in which the elements occur in sea water are not always known, (2) elements that occur in sea water in small amounts are present as contaminants in other compounds in quantities which may far exceed those that should be added, and (3) many of the salts which must be added in fairly large amounts are hygroscopic or contain water of crystallization and are difficult to weigh accurately. The latter difficulty may be partially avoided by preparing concentrated solutions of these salts, determining their concentration by chemical analysis, and adding the required volume of the solution.

Although it would be of great interest to prepare solutions duplicating all the physical and chemical properties of sea water, it is generally not essential. In studies of certain of the physical-chemical properties, it is sufficient to add to the solution only the more abundant ions. In other instances—for example, when chemical methods are to be standardized—only one element or ion need be accurately known and other ions only approximately. Furthermore, in experiments with marine plants the major elements may not have to be closely controlled, but it will generally be necessary to know the concentrations of the biologically essential elements that are normally present in small amounts. If possible, natural sea water should always be used in physical or biological studies, but in the latter case it is sometimes desirable to enrich the water with certain of the plant nutrients (p. 235). Rogers (1938) has discussed various “modified ” types of solutions that are used in experiments on marine animals.

In table 37 are given three suggested formulae for preparing solutions approximating the composition of sea water. They have been adjusted to yield solutions of 19.00 ‰ chlorinity. The recipe of McClendon et al (1917), which has been used quite extensively, contains the nitrogen, phosphorus, and silicon needed by marine plants. Additional elements may be necessary but are probably always present as impurities. The formulae of Brujewicz (Subow, 1931) and of Lyman and FIeming (1940) contain only the major elements. The last-mentioned recipe corresponds to the composition of sea water given in table 35. The other formulae have not been adjusted to the composition presented in earlier sections of

this chapter. In all cases the reagents used should be examined for contaminants and, if necessary, purified.

McClendon et al (1917) Brujewicz (Subow, 1931) Lyman and Fleming (1940)
Salt g/kg Salt g/kg Salt g/kg
NaCl 26.726 NaCl 26.518 NaCl 23.476
MgCl2 2.260 MgCl2 2.447 MgCl2 4.981
MgSO4 3.248 MgSO4 3.305 Na2SO4 3.917
CaCl2 1.153 CaCl2 1.141 CaCl2 1.102
KCl 0.721 KCl 0.725 KCl 0.664
NaHCO3 0.198 NaHCO3 0.202 NaHCO3 0.192
NaBr 0.058 NaBr 0.083 KBr 0.096
H3BO3 0.058 H3BO3 0.026
Na2SiO3 0.0024 SrCl2 0.024
Na2Si4O9 0.0015 NaF 0.003
H3PO4 0.0002
Al2Cl6 0.013
NH3 0.002
LiNO3 0.0013
Total 34.4406 34.421 34.481
Water to 1,000.0000 Water to 1,000.000 Water to 1,000.000

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