Ion exchange (IX) is the reversible interchange of ions between a solid (IX material) and a liquid in which there is no permanent change in the structure of the solid.
IX is used in water treatment and also provides a method of separation in many non-water processes. It has special utility in chemical synthesis, medical research, food processing, mining, agriculture and a variety of other areas. The utility of IX rests with the ability to use and reuse the IX material.
Weakly acidic ion exchange resin is based primarily an acrylic or methacrylic acid that has been crosslinked with a di-functional monomer (usually divinylbenzene [DVB]). The manufacturing process may start with the ester of the acid in suspension polymerization followed by hydrolysis of the resulting product to produce the functional acid group. It hasve a high affinity for the hydrogen ion and are therefore easily regenerated with strong acids. The acid-regenerated resin exhibits a high capacity for the alkaline earth metals associated with alkalinity and a more limited capacity for the alkali metals with alkalinity. No significant salt splitting occurs with neutral salts. However, when the resin is not protonated (e.g., if it has been neutralized with sodium hydroxide), softening can be performed, even in the presence of a high salt background.
Strongly acidic ion exchange resin is sulfonated copolymers of styrene and DVB. These materials are characterized by their ability to exchange cations or split neutral salts and are useful across the entire pH range.
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