Ion Exchange Information


ION – an atom or group of atoms that carries a positive or negative electric charge

CATION – an atom or group of atoms that carries a positive electric charge

ANION – an atom or group of atoms that carries a negative electric charge

A reversible interchange of one kind of ion present on an insoluble solid with another of like charge present in a solution surrounding the solid with the reaction being used especially for softening or demineralizing water, the purification of chemicals, or the separation of substances.

In the 1800′s ion exchange reactions gained recognition. Historical references found in the writings of Aristotle, the writings of Sir Francis Bacon, in the Bible, and many other places do reference possible ion exchange reactions. Modern ion exchange principles can shed light on these writings. Today water softening, by the process of exchanging sodium (Na) ions for problem causing calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg) ions, is a very common process. Processes using water and detergents achieve a huge decrease in detergent amounts required when softened water is used.

Water treatment applications in which ion exchange is used are all encompassing from beer brewing, laundries, and car washes to nuclear power, chemical manufacturing, and computer chips. The applications can be as simple as leaving your car rinsed shiny clean or as serious as keeping silica deposits off steam driven power turbines. Ion exchange in commercial water treating applications began in the early 1900′s. The first applications used naturally occurring minerals such as zeolite and manganese greensand for softening water (the removal of magnesium and calcium) and iron (Fe) removal. Wolcott Water Systems became involved with the commercial/industrial water treating business and ion exchange in the late 1920′s.

During the mid 1930′s synthetic ion exchange resins were developed, and greatly increased the efficiency of ion exchange applications. By the late 1940′s and early 1950′s full demineralization of water became possible. At any operating facility using water in the production process, serious water treatment is now a requirement.

The ability of ion exchange resins to produce 99.999% pure water enables manufacturers to produce higher quality products. Ion exchange is the most effective, efficient, and reliable process for most all water treating agendas.