The reduction of oxygen in neutral saline solution and in seawater was studied using the rotating disk electrode (RDE). The objective was to test the applicability of the RDE as a primary reference standard for the measurement of oxygen concentrations below 0.1 ppm in seawater. Limited success was achieved with an activated platinum electrode. A gold electrode was less effective. If one postulates that the 2-electron reduction of oxygen at an activated RDE is rapid, it appears that little or no 4-electron reduction occurs and that the subsequent 2-electron reduction or catalytic decomposition of hydrogen peroxide is relatively slow. The anodic activation procedure developed appears to impart a transient catalytic activity to the electrode surface for the peroxide reaction(s).
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