# Buoyancy Does it Matter?

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1 Buoyancy Does it Matter? Speaker / Author: N.J. Tayler SANAS Private Bag X23, Sunnyside, 0132, South Africa Phone: Fax: Abstract There is often the misguided impression that buoyancy corrections are not necessary when performing the calibration of weights and volume measuring devices such as burettes and pipettes. Failure to correct for the buoyancy of the mass of the weights used in the calibration process to local conditions could result in errors that exceed the tolerance limits of piston pipettes that dispense small volumes. The standard Tables for the Z correction factors included in Annex A of ISO :2002 (Piston-operated volumetric apparatus) are derived from equation (3) from ISO/TR 20461:2000. This formula is based on the assumption that the air density at the time the calibration is performed is the same as the air density when the weights were calibrated, and this is not always the case. 1. Introduction There is a common misconception that when weighing in air, the air has little or an insignificant effect on the measurement result, air is often incorrectly equated to nothingness (for want of a better word). Failure to adequately recognize that the air in which a measurement is made has a measureable effect on the result of weighing, and will be influenced by the prevailing air density, can result in the incorrect reporting of measurement results, either from the calibration of other weights, or the result of the gravimetric calibration of volumetric measuring devices. The concept of conventional mass represents the mass of a reference weight of density of kg/m 3, at 20ºC which it balances in air of density 1,2 kg/m Buoyancy Most people are familiar with the concept of buoyancy as it relates to objects floating on water. Archimedes describes in his treatise on floating bodies the principle that a body immersed in a fluid experiences a buoyant force equal to the weight of the fluid it displaces. An electronic balance is designed to measure the force generated when a weight is subjected to the force of gravity, F g = m x g, this force is offset by the force created by the mass of the air displaced by the weight,

2 F b = V x ρ a x g. [1] This can be further simplified to F b = (m/ρ)ρ a x g [2] Where F b m ρ ρ a g Buoyancy Force Mass of the weight, or object being weighed Density of the weight, or object being weighed The density of the surrounding air The local acceleration due to gravity The following diagram illustrates this principle of opposing forces. F = mg F b = V x ρ a x g 3. Conventional versus True Mass Before one can adequately come to grasps with conventional mass an understanding of the differences and similarities between Mass and Weight need to be understood. Scientifically mass is defined as the amount of substance, whilst the weight is the gravitational force acting on the body. For trading purposes however the concepts of Mass and Weight are considered to be synonymous. [3] The 3 rd CGPM held in 1901 declared the kilogram to be a unit of Mass, equal to the mass of the International prototype of the kilogram. In order to clarify the difference the conference further declared that the word weight denoted a quantity of the same nature as a force, the weight of a body being equal to the product of its mass and standard acceleration due to gravity, which was confirmed as 980, 665 cm/s 2. [4]

3 The use of the terminology True Mass can be considered a misnomer, and is often used simply to differentiate mass from conventional mass. Conventional Mass has been defined as the value of a body of mass m c of a standard that balances this body under conventionally chosen conditions, these being t ref - 20 C ρ 0-1,2 kg/m 3 ρ c kg/m 3 [5] In simple terms the difference between the mass and the conventional mass is equivalent to the mass of air displaced by the object (or weight), and is equal to approximately 0,015% (i.e. 1,2 kg.m -3 / kg.m -3 X 100). The SI unit for mass, the kilogram remains the sole remaining SI unit represented by a physical artefact. Research is currently being undertaken to enable the representation of the kilogram terms of Avogadro s constant, by physically measuring and thereby determining the actual number of silicon atoms in sphere of silicon crystal. This would allow for the ultimate replacement of the current artefact. In order to inter-compare the silicon crystal spheres with current representations of the kilogram, weighing comparators with weight handling mechanisms have been developed with the capacity to handle both cylindrical weights and silicon spheres, accurate to 0,1 µg for weights of 1 kg *, and with the capability to perform these measurements under high vacuum. The capability to perform these comparisons under high vacuum has a direct influence on the effect of buoyancy in the calibration process. [*Claimed accuracy Sartorius Vacuum Comparator Model CCL1007] 4. The application of buoyancy corrections for Mass calibrations. The OIML R111-1 document specifically addresses the calibration of, and categorization of weights into various classes of accuracy. Clause 10.2 addresses corrections for air-density deviation (or the changes in buoyancy that would be experienced as a result of air density changes). Changes in the Air density may be as a result of climatic changes, but will in many cases be as a result of the change between the location of initial calibration and ultimate usage. Change in location will often include changes to the elevation, or altitude. (For example in the province of Gauteng, South Africa the altitude is typically between 1300 to 1650 metres, somewhat removed from many altitude of many major Cities, e.g. London, Paris and New York are all below 100 metres. The OIML has recommended that where the air density (ρ a ) deviates by more than 10% from the reference conditions of 1,2 kg/m 3 a correction should be applied. Assuming an approximate air pressure of 870 mbar (typical for Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa) and using the NIST simplified air density formula it is possible to calculate the expected air density.

4 The NIST simplified formula is AD = [(0, x P) h(0,00252t -0,020582)] ( t) Where AD = Air density (kg/m 3 ) P = Air Pressure (mbar) h = Relative humidity of the air (% rh) t = Air temperature ( C) [1] Using this formula, and an approximate air pressure of 870 mbar, a relative humidity of 50 % rh, and keeping the air temperature at the conventional t ref value of 20 C, the resulting air density would be 1,029 kg/m 3. The % difference in air densities between an expected value for Pretoria and the reference value for air density is therefore AD diff = (1,2 kg/m 3 1,029 kg/m 3 )/ 1,2 kg/m 3 X 100 = 14,25%. As the % difference exceeds the 10% proposed in 10.2 of OIML R111-1, a correction must be applied. Clause of OIML R111 provides for the following formula to be applied for the correction C = (ρ a ρ 0 )[ 1 /ρ t 1 /ρ r ] Where ρ a = measured air density ρ 0 = reference air density (1,2 kg/m 3 ) ρ t = density of the test weight ρ r = density of the reference weight [2] The formula above is the product of two separate terms, representing firstly the difference in the measured and reference air densities, and secondly the difference in the density of the reference and test weights, and should either term be zero, the resulting correction would be zero. The conditions which would therefore result in this condition are when either the measured air density is the same as the reference air density (1,2 kg/m 3 ) or when the density of the test weight is the same as the reference weight. For this specific reason it is not necessary to perform a buoyancy correction when a stainless steel weight is calibrated against a stainless steel reference weight, irrespective of the prevailing air density. OIML R111 includes a table (Table B7 of Method F) of approximate densities for various steel types that can be adopted and applied when the density of the weight is unknown, however this may not be ideal as often weights of a fine finish and plated with chromium or nickel may have the appearance of stainless steel, and may be difficult to differentiate from stainless steel.

5 The OIML document includes further requirements when weights used for the calibration or verification of balances, and recommends the application of a buoyancy correction when class E weights are used above 330 m and class F1 weights used above 800 m, and for this reason it is desirable that the density of the weight be known. 5. The application of Buoyancy corrections for Volume calibrations. The calibration of volume measuring devices such as piston pipettes by gravimetric means necessitates the application of a buoyancy correction. ISO [6] includes a table of maximum permissible errors for various classes/types, and ranges of pipette, for both systematic (accuracy) and random errors (repeatability), that vary between 0,3 and 5 %. (Type A and D1). Many manufacturers have specified accuracy and repeatability error limits smaller or tighter than those permitted in this International Standard. Failure to apply the applicable corrections will result in errors of between 0,2 and 0,5 %. Failure to apply the buoyancy correction could result in errors that may exceed the specified accuracy specification of the pipette, or the rejection of a pipette that is within specification. The application of buoyancy corrections when performing the calibration of piston pipettes has been greatly simplified by the inclusion of a table of correction factors (Z factors) in ISO based on distilled water, covering a temperature range of between 15 and 30 C, and barometric pressure between 800 and 105 mbar. The Z factors are presented to an accuracy of approximately ± 0,01 %, and when selecting the closest row and column the difference in the Z factor is typically 0,000 1 µl per mg (0,01 %). These Z factors have reproduced in many of the calibration brochures and manuals published by the various manufacturers of pipettes. The table of correction factors published in ISO is based on an equation presented in ISO/TR [8]. Z is described as the combined factor for buoyancy correction and conversion from mass to volume. Z = 1/ρ w x 1 - (ρ a / ρ b ) 1 - (ρ a / ρ w ) which simplifies to = 1/ρ b x (ρ b ρ a ) / (ρ w ρ a ) Where ρ w ρ a ρ b is the density of water; is the density of air; is the density of the standard weight used to calibrate/adjust the balance (8 000 kg/m 3 for steel weights).

6 The calibration process of a piston pipette is described simply as a balance is adjusted/calibrated using weights of conventional mass and density of ± kg/m 3. an empty (except of air, density ± 1,1 kg/m 3 ) receiving vessel is placed on the balance pan. the pipette is used to dispense a fixed volume of distilled water of density ± 997 kg/m 3 into the receiving vessel, replacing a portion of the air contained in the receiving vessel. The displayed mass is recorded, and the process repeated. The buoyancy correction applicable for volume or pipette calibration, unlike the buoyancy correction for weights must therefore take into account a third factor that being the density of water, as illustrated above. 6. A Practical example of the application of a Buoyancy Correction (or failure to apply). Laboratory X is accredited for the calibration of piston micro pipettes by gravimetric means. During an assessment they were requested to demonstrate the method applied as well as the various checks and balances (no pun intended) in place to ensure the quality of the measurement results. The preliminary set up process was demonstrated. It commenced with the self-calibration or adjustment of the 6 decimal place electronic balance. After completion of the self-calibration or adjustment sequence a 5g test weight was placed on the balance and the value recorded. It was found that the reading on the balance deviated excessively from the nominal value, and upon request the calibration certificate for the test weight issued by a reputable European manufacturer and calibration laboratory was provided. As the deviation could not be explained the laboratory was requested to investigate and to take appropriate corrective action. This resulted in laboratory sending the weight for recalibration to a local accredited laboratory. The resultant certificate value was in far closer agreement with that indicated on the balance when the test 5 g weight had been placed on the balance during the demonstration. The question that however remained unexplained was why was there such a large deviation between the value reported of the original certificate, and the value displayed on the balance?

7 Was there a possibility that the calibrating laboratory had failed to apply a buoyancy correction when reporting the measurement results as conventional mass? (i.e. failure to apply a correction to bring the measurement results in line with the conventionally accepted and reported conditions). As the balance had been adjusted using a mass piece of known conventional mass it would be a reasonable assumption that another test weight placed on the balance would also accurately reflect the conventional mass within the uncertainty as reflected on the certificate of calibration. The conventional mass reported on the calibration certificate for the 5g test weight was 5 g 0,007 mg (4, g) whilst the value displayed on the balance when the weight was placed on the weighing pan was 5, g a difference of some 89µg, and well in excess of the maximum permissible limit of 50µg for a 5 g class E 2 weight. The original calibration certificate included the environmental conditions relevant at the time of the calibration of the 5 g test weight, and necessary for the calculation of the prevailing air density, these being: Temperature = 22,7 C Relative Humidity = 46,7 %rh Air pressure = 989,9 mbar and as the local laboratory X where the deviation was detected was also equipped with environmental monitoring equipment, the environmental conditions were also recorded, these being Temperature = 22,0 C Relative Humidity = 56 %rh Air pressure = 866,9 mbar Using the NIST simplified air density formula shown elsewhere in this paper it was possible to calculate the respective air densities these being Calibration laboratory Air Density = kg/m 3 Local Laboratory X Air density = kg/m 3 Difference in density = kg/m 3 The density of the weight has been reported (assumed) as kg/m 3 and knowing the mass to be a nominal value of 5 g it is possible to calculate resulting volume (V) of the weight to be m 3. From the calculated differences in air density and volume it is possible to calculate a correction to be added to the mass of the 5 gram weight as reported on the original certificate m c = Air Density diff x V = 0, kg/m 3 x 0, m 3 = 0, kg = 89,5 µg

8 Adding this correction to the certificate value of 4, g results in a mass of 5, g, and as the balance indicated a mass of 5, g, the resulting difference is less 1 µg, or 1 division of the applicable balance. In conclusion, it is clear that failure to adequately apply buoyancy corrections will result in poor measurement results. The result of this calculation and the subsequent re-calibration of the 5 g weight, provide firm evidence that the reported conventional mass was incorrect, and that the 5 g weight did not satisfy the maximum permissible error for classification as a class E 2 weight according to OIML R In Summary Failure to apply correction factors when calibrating volume measure or dispensing devices will in the vast majority of cases result in unacceptable deviations in the measurement results. The Z correction factors contained in Annex A of ISO are considered accurate to approximately 1 part 10 4 (0,01 %). The Z correction factors are calculated on the assumption that the stainless steel weights used to calibrate the balance, have been calibrated and reported as conventional mass where the applicable air density is 1,2 kg/m3. The calibration of weights and balances must include a correction for buoyancy, particularly where the weights of classes E and F are used above 330 and 700 m respectively; 8. Acronyms CGPM - The Conference Generale des Poids et Mesures (General Conference of Weights and Measures). ISO - International Organization for Standardization, Geneva OIML - Organisation Internationale de Metrologie Legale (International Organization of Legal Metrology) 9. References 1. Good Practice Guidance/Note Buoyancy Correction and Air Density Measurement, National Physical Laboratory, UK, 4641/0.2k/SEA/ OIML R Edition 2004 (E), International Recommendation Weights of Classes E1, E2, F1, F2, M1, M1-2, M2, M3-3 and M3, 3. Davidson S, Perkin M, Buckley M, The measurement of Mass and Weight, Measurement Good Practice Guide Number 71, National Physical Laboratory (NPL), UK, 5369/AAR/1K/0704

9 4. The International System of Units (SI), Bureau International des Poids et Mesures (BIPM), 8 th Edition 2006, ISBN Conventional result of the value of weighing in air, Organisation Internationale de Metrologie Legale (OIML), D28 Edition 2004 (E) 6. International Standard ISO :2002(E), piston operated volumetric apparatus Part 2: Piston pipettes. 7. International Standard ISO :2002(E), piston operated volumetric apparatus Part 6: Gravimetric methods for the determination of measurement error. 8. Technical Report ISO/TR 20461:2000(E), determination of uncertainty for volume measurements made using the gravimetric method.

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