A Palin devoted much of his professional life to developing water-testing methods. He pioneered the diethyl-para-phenylene diamine indicator method that would provide the key explanation of chlorination breakpoint. This method laid the foundation for the present use of chlorine as a disinfectant in drinking water and swimming pools. Today, DPD is the international standard method for measuring free chlorine and combined chlorine residuals. It also determines other residuals, such as chlorine dioxide, bromine, iodine and ozone.

As chief chemist and bacteriologist at the Newcastle and Gateshead Water Co. in 1945, Palin developed a simple, reliable system of routine water testing involving the use of tablets. In 1960, Wilkinson & Simpson, now Palintest Ltd., was granted exclusive license to manufacture and market the Palintest system of water testing. In 1977, Palin retired from his position to join the Palintest Board.

Palin held a first class degree from London University and a Ph.D. for his chlorination research. He received a gold medal at the Public Works Congress of 1950 in London. He was an official adviser to the Standard Methods Committee of the American Water Works Association, as well as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry. He lived in Gosforth, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, U.K.