Laboratory evaluation of the Sea-Bird Scientific HydroCycle-PO4 phosphate sensor

Open-File Report 2018-1120




Sea-Bird Scientific’s HydroCycle-PO4 phosphate sensor is a single-analyte wet-chemistry sensor designed for in situ environmental monitoring. The unit was evaluated at the U.S. Geological Survey Hydrologic Instrumentation Facility to assess the accuracy of the sensor in solutions with known phosphorous concentration and to test the effects of chromophoric (colored) dissolved organic matter (CDOM) and natural water matrixes on sensor accuracy. Accuracy was tested with three standards: 0.110, 0.174, and 0.260 milligram per liter, as phosphorous (mg/L as P). The 0.110- and 0.260-mg/L standards were made from a dilution of a National Institute of Standards and Technology-traceable phosphate-phosphorous standard with Type I deionized water (DIW). Average measured phosphate concentrations of the tested standards (0.110, 0.174, and 0.260 mg/L as P) in DIW were 0.132, 0.181, and 0.310 mg/L as P, for differences of 20, 4, and 19 percent, respectively.

Measured phosphate concentration of a tested standard was biased by the addition of tea water filtered through a 0.45-micrometer pore size filter (filtered tea water [FTW]) simulating the effect of CDOM. An aliquot of the filtered tea solution was sent to a certified environmental laboratory, which reported a less than reporting level (<0.004 mg/L as P) phosphate concentration. True color of the FTW was measured at 380 platinum-cobalt units by using Standard Methods 8025. For this FTW test, the measured phosphate concentration for the clear 0.260 mg/L as P standard averaged 0.366 mg/L as P. This concentration increased to an average of 0.653 mg/L as P with the addition of 10 percent FTW, and to an average of 0.859 mg/L as P with the addition of 20 percent FTW. These test results indicate a positive bias of up to 40 percent of the concentrations of the measured phosphate concentrations when CDOM is present and indicate a proportional increase in an apparent concentration of phosphorus instrument response as CDOM concentration increases.

Suggested Citation

Snazelle, T.T., 2018, Laboratory evaluation of the Sea-Bird Scientific HydroCycle-PO4 phosphate sensor: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2018–1120, 10 p.,

ISSN: 2331-1258 (online)

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Description of the HydroCycle-PO4
  • Orthophosphate Analysis
  • HydroCycle-PO4 Testing
  • Discussion
  • Conclusions
  • References Cited

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Laboratory evaluation of the Sea-Bird Scientific HydroCycle-PO4 phosphate sensor
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
Office of Surface Water
vi, 10 p.
Online Only (Y/N):