Understanding the Unique Benefits of Combining Strong and Weak Ion Exchange Resins in Water Desalination

Combining Strong and Weak Ion Exchange Resins: Key Characteristics and Benefits

When it comes to achieving high-quality desalinated water, utilizing both strong and weak ion exchange resins offers a synergistic solution that enhances performance and efficiency. Here’s a detailed look into the combined application of strong and weak resins in water desalination and how this method optimizes the desalination process.

1. Optimizing Resin Use Based on Water Salinity

For water sources with moderate salinity, relying solely on strong acid and strong base resins can suffice for chemical desalination (following the sequence: raw water → strong acid cation exchange → decarbonization → strong base anion exchange → mixed bed for polishing). However, strong resins have relatively low exchange capacities—800 to 1000 mol/m³ for strong acid cation resins and even lower for strong base anion resins. The typical regeneration capacity with standard industrial alkali is only about 250 to 300 mol/m³, leading to higher acid and alkali consumption and significant waste production, which increases water treatment costs and environmental impact.

2. Advantages of Weak Resin in Reducing Costs and Enhancing Capacity

Weak resins, while unable to remove all ions from water, boast high operational exchange capacities and lower regenerant consumption. Combining weak and strong resins in water desalination leverages the strengths of both types. Here’s how the process works:

  • Initial Ion Removal: Raw water first passes through the weak resin, removing a substantial portion of ions.
  • Complete Ion Removal: The water then flows through the strong resin, ensuring thorough ion removal and high water quality.

During regeneration, this process is reversed. Regenerants first restore the strong resin, then the weak resin, minimizing the amount of waste regenerant. This approach significantly improves the operational exchange capacity of the strong resin and maintains the high quality of the output water.

3. Operational Conditions for Combining Resins

To maximize the benefits of using both strong and weak resins, certain conditions must be met:

  • Stable Raw Water Quality: Consistent water quality ensures optimal performance.
  • Effective Layering in Dual Beds: Proper layering is crucial to avoid mixing and ensure efficient regeneration and operation. For weak resins, maintaining a layer height of at least 600mm is recommended, while strong resins should have a minimum height based on flow rates (600mm at 20m/h and 800mm at 40m/h).
  • Preventing Colloidal Silicon Precipitation: Maintaining regeneration temperatures between 35°C and 40°C helps prevent colloidal silicon precipitation, which can interfere with the process.
  • Managing Weak Alkaline Resin End Points: Weak alkaline resins, especially macro-porous types, should be used at the front to adsorb and desorb organic substances, protecting the strong base resin from contamination.


By combining strong and weak ion exchange resins, water treatment systems can achieve superior desalination performance with higher operational capacities and lower regenerant usage. This integrated approach not only enhances water quality but also reduces operational costs and environmental impact, making it a preferred method in various industrial applications.

Xi’an CHIWATEC Water Treatment Technology is a high-tech enterprise specialized in various water processing devices. Aside from these individual products, which cover a number of types and series, we can also help with related comprehensive engineering projects. Thanks to our hard work and dedication upon our founding, we are now one of the fastest-developing water treatment equipment manufacturers in Western China.

Further reading

C100E ion exchange resin

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