PuriTech Ltd

- Ionix System

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PuriTech saw an opportunity in the competitive and growing international ion exchange market place for a liquid adsorption separation technology that not only reduced plant operating costs and capital expenditure, compared with existing systems, but also offered enhancements in both functionality and performance. In developing ION-IX, PuriTech’s main objective was to improve on existing system design, in particular continuous countercurrent processes, and broaden and extend the technology's application base.

Standard, existing technologies include fixed-bed and continuous countercurrent ion exchange systems. Based on a batch-style operation, fixed-bed units are used in around 90% of projects, but compared with continuous countercurrent systems their performance is relatively weak.

Furthermore, they are prone to wasting 2–4% of the treated fluid-flow in water treatment applications.

Advanced fixed bed systems make use of an array of automated valves for each resin cell, offer an improved approach and some advantages, but rely on a lot of piping and complex controls.

Other continuous countercurrent ion exchange systems use a carousel to rotate the resin cells around a central valve. This approach again offers some advantages, but also needs complex controllers to operate, and requires the use of flexible hoses between the valve and resin chambers.

Realising the growing market potential of ion exchange, PuriTech has taken continuous countercurrent ion exchange system design to a new level. It sought solutions to problems that have restricted the development and broader use of current systems.

The company has effectively reversed a tried and tested approach to distributing fluids to ion exchange cells, or chambers, used by competitor companies, to create a cleverly conceived system. The elegant solution not only improves liquid-resin contact efficiency, but also reduces plant operating costs and requires a smaller investment in capital equipment.

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ION-IX uses a single, multi-port distribution valve, creating a process system for continuous, countercurrent ion exchange. The patented valve distributes different flow streams to several resin cells and determines whether the resin is in an adsorption, a regeneration or a rinsing cycle.

The technology is markedly different from other continuous, countercurrent ion exchange systems that are available in the market place. Instead of using a carousel to move the cells around a central valve, the process disc within the ION-IX valve rotates around a central axis and distributes the different flow streams to the cells containing ion exchange resin or other adsorption materials.

During a full rotation each cell is subjected to an entire sorption cycle.

Adsorptive and ion exchange separation generally comprises a two- phase mass-transfer - an adsorption cycle and a desorption cycle - separated by washing or rinsing of the solid phase between these mass transfer steps. The use of shorter and smaller resin beds allow for maximum resin usage.

The mass-transfer zone in a standard ion exchange plant is typically a small section of the actual operating bed length. This small production section, where mass transfer takes place, passes as a transfer zone through the bed - from a saturated resin to an unsaturated resin.

To avoid frequent bed regeneration, the content of a vessel is saturated before regeneration takes place. Each regeneration follows a batch sequence. Countercurrent contacting on a continuous basis does not suffer these limitations, because it is not a batch process.

Valve configurations

  • Various valve configurations and materials are available for specific applications.
  • PuriTech offers, as a standard, Polypropylene ( PP ) ION-IX valve bodies with polytetrafluoroethylene ( PTFE ) internal parts.
  • Other construction materials, requested by the process application, have also been implemented to the ION-IX multi-port valves.

Benefits and advantages
In short, the innovative features of PuriTech’s ION-IX system make it suitable for separation and processing duties in a diverse range of applications. Many of these features, including those listed here, make the technology highly desirable, and will ensure its continued adoption in numerous sectors and industries worldwide.

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  • PuriTech's ION-IX continuous countercurrent ion exchange system offers a number of advantages over existing technologies.
  • For instance, by using the ION-IX multi-port distribution valve and process disc, rigid pipes can be used between the valve and ion exchange vessels, instead of flexible hoses.
  • Sealing is also greatly simplified, which means only O-rings and gaskets are required.
  • In addition, the use of the ION-IX valve means that complex carousel mechanisms are not required, simplifying installation, commissioning and control requirements.

Adaptable and versatile

  • The ION-IX multi-port valve is also designed to be adaptable and versatile.
  • A number of user functions can be carried out simultaneously under continuous operating conditions.

Easy access to the ION-IX multi-port valve - the system's only moving part sits internally of the ION-IX valve body - and the ion exchange vessels, simplifies maintenance procedures.

It is also possible to build compact systems based on the technology. The ion exchange cells can be positioned in any desired pattern, providing maximum installation flexibility.
 
Utilities and resin inventory

  • Compared to conventional fixed-bed systems, and depending on the application, PuriTech's ION-IX technology can reduce the rinse water consumption up to 75%, while the volume of ion exchange resin required can be reduced by up to 50%, offering significant savings.
  • A further comparison with other existing technoogies show that a higher separation efficiency and product concentration can be achieved by using PuriTech's ION-IX technology.
  • Countercurrent fluid flow and recycling, together with uninterrupted process streams, guarantee high levels of recovery.

Lower capital investment

  • In some applications the capital investment on specific projects can be reduced by 20–40%.
  • For example, a like-for-like comparison of an ION-IX unit and a typical carousel system - both rated at 40 m3/h - reveals that by using PuriTech's ION-IX technology, the investment cost can be reduced by about 35%.
  • ION-IX is targeted at a wide range of industries, and plants based on the technology are set to displace some fixed-bed units.
  • Even existing countercurrent systems have been switched over to the ION-IX technology due to being more cost-effective and requiring a smaller investment.

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