Brine Reuse in Ion-Exchange Softening: Salt Discharge, Hardness Leakage, and Capacity Tradeoffs

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Ion-exchange water softening results in the discharge of excess sodium chloride to the aquatic environment during the regeneration cycle. In order to reduce sodium chloride use and subsequent discharge from ion-exchange processes, either brine reclaim operations can be implemented or salt application during regeneration can be reduced. Both result in tradeoffs related to loss of bed volumes treated per cycle and increased hardness leakage. An experimentally validated model was used to compare concurrent water softening operations at various salt application quantities with and without the direct reuse of waste brine for treated tap water of typical midwestern water quality. Both approaches were able to reduce salt use and subsequent discharge. Reducing salt use and discharge by lowering the salt application rate during regeneration consequently increased hardness leakage and decreased treatment capacity. Single or two tank brine recycling systems are capable of reducing salt use and discharge without increasing hardness leakage, although treatment capacity is reduced.

Keywords: brine; ion-exchange; reclaim; reuse; softening; water

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2012

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  • Water Environment Research® (WER®) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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