Ion exchange is a simple chemistry process that removes one or more harmful or undesirable contaminant from water by exchanging with another more desirable substance. The exchange is facilitated by resin – tiny polymer beads that are typically 1-3mm in diameter.
It’s the go-to water treatment solution, preferred for its simplicity, robustness, and effectiveness. However, it is costly, inherently inefficient, and produces substantial waste.
Ion Exchange. Like It’s Never Been Done Before
For Ionex SG, the process was ripe for disruption. We targeted two steps that are central to the process: loading, which captures the contaminant, and regeneration, which removes it. Our innovations in chemistry and fluid dynamics have dramatically improved the efficiency of the resin bed performance, by extending loading and refining regeneration. The same innovations also vastly reduce waste volumes. Collectively, the improvements have cut overall lifecycle costs to a fraction of traditional ion exchange systems, enabling deployment for the toughest installations.
Loading happens when raw water flows through a bed of resin beads in a column, and negatively charged ions exchange for chloride ions on the resin bead. Our system evenly delivers water in a downward flow across the entire resin bed. This enables uniform saturation and ensures maximum bead loading. Water flow is higher, and the resin bed volume is reduced – two key improvements that lower capital and operating costs.
Once fully loaded, the resin requires regeneration to remove the contaminant. For this step, our system uses a proprietary selective elution process to first remove the sulfates and bicarbonates via a super-dilute brine rinse, which is then returned to the treatment plant. This process reduces waste volumes by as much as 60% when compared to traditional ion exchange systems. Next, a strong brine solution is applied to remove nitrates, resulting in a small waste volume of super-concentrate nitrate which is suitable for reuse or recycling. Finally, the brine is rinsed with softened water from the resin bed creating a plug-flow to return the column ready for drinking water treatment.
We turned to the experts for responsible disposal of spent materials from customer sites, and selected a premier hydrometallurgical recycler that shares our dedication to health and safety. Our partner has its own fully-equipped private transportation system that is permitted at federal, state and local levels.
Their environmental track record is excellent.
Their longtime expertise in waste recovery, basic chemicals and end-use chemical processes means our customers can count on receiving a seamless end-to-end treatment service.