If you’ve been investigating process water treatment and separation solutions, chances are that you may have run across DOWEX UPCORE™ and ADVANCED AMBERPACK™. Indeed, these technologies are used across a number of industries, and remain popular solutions for various ion exchange applications.
In this article, we’ll discuss the similarities and differences between DOWEX UPCORE™ vs. ADVANCED AMBERPACK™, and compare how they work, and what these differences mean for performance in an industrial facility setting.
How are DOWEX UPCORE™ and ADVANCED AMBERPACK™ similar?
Broadly speaking, ion exchange is a separation process where a stream is passed through a resin substrate that selectively removes ionic contaminants. Both DOWEX UPCORE™ and ADVANCED AMBERPACK™ are specific types of ion exchange technologies that are brands by the DuPont (previously DOW) Chemical Company. They are among the most popular branded technologies in place at industrial facilities around the world, where they serve diverse water treatment and separation functions, including boiler feedwater softening, high-purity deionization, and brine treatment, among many other applications.
They both use counter-current regeneration
Another commonality is that both DOWEX UPCORE™ and ADVANCED AMBERPACK™ are counter-current ion exchange technologies. In counter-current systems, liquid streams pass through the unit in one direction during the service mode, and in the opposite direction during the regeneration mode. Comparative to conventional co-flow ion exchange, where the same flow direction is maintained throughout the entire service and regeneration cycle, both ADVANCED AMBERPACK™ and UPCORE™ offer a number of benefits, including smaller waste volumes, greater chemical efficiency, and a smaller footprint, among other efficiencies.
They have a similar vessel design
As a function of this counter-current flow pattern, both ADVANCED AMBERPACK™ and UPCORE™ technologies leverage a similar vessel design. This consists of a tank, the interior of which is fitted with reinforced metal plates near the top and bottom of the unit. Each plate has holes that accommodate nozzles, which are used to control the flow of water into the unit. The space between the nozzle plates is nearly filled—or “packed”—with ion exchange resin, with just a small amount of freeboard space left to allow for resin expansion and movement. A complete system may consist of one or more tanks, and is often available as a packaged unit.
How are DOWEX UPCORE™ and ADVANCED AMBERPACK™ different?
The main difference between DOWEX UPCORE™ and ADVANCED AMBERPACK™ is the direction of water flow through the vessel(s). As we’ve said, both are counter-current ion exchange technologies, meaning that they are operated in one flow direction for service, and the opposite direction for regeneration. However, the key difference between DOWEX UPCORE™ and ADVANCED AMBERPACK™ technologies is that they leverage opposite flow patterns respective of one another. In short:
- DOWEX UPCORE™ utilizes a downflow service, upflow regeneration flow pattern. In service mode, the stream to be treated enters at the top of the vessel, moving downward through the resin bed, and exiting from the bottom of the vessel. During regeneration, water and regenerant chemicals are pumped into the bottom of the unit, moving upwards through the resin bed, and exiting at the top of the vessel.
- ADVANCED AMBERPACK™ utilizes an upflow service, downflow regeneration flow pattern. During service mode, the stream to be treated is pumped into the bottom of the vessel, moving upward through the resin, and exiting through the top of the unit. In regeneration mode, the regenerant solution is pumped into the top of the unit, making its way downward through the resin, and exiting from the bottom of the vessel.
While this difference may seem like a minor distinction, these opposing flow patterns have significant implications for the operation and performance of DOWEX UPCORE™ and ADVANCED AMBERPACK™ technologies. These differences are detailed below.
Solids tolerance and removal
DOWEX UPCORE™ technology offers an advantage over AMBERPACK™ in that it provides a self-cleaning effect that makes it uniquely capable of handling streams with low to moderate solids content. In UPCORE™, the vessel includes some components that are absent in AMBERPACK™, such as a layer of inert resin at the top of the bed, and slotted screens in varying sizes located at the top and bottom of the unit. These features enhance the effect of UPCORE’s™ downflow service cycle by capturing solids from the stream, and retaining them near the top of the vessel. When the service mode is complete, the UPCORE™ regeneration mode begins with a compaction step, where water is pumped in from the bottom of the vessel at a high flow rate in order to compact the resin at the top of the vessel. The velocity of the water entering the UPCORE™ unit during this compaction step causes turbulence in the resin bed, which in turn has a scrubbing effect as resin beads rub against one another. Resin fines and trapped particles are thereby dislodged from the resin bed, and solids are forced out from the top of the unit as the compaction stream exits the vessel.
In AMBERPACK™, the nature of the upflow service mode means that solids present in the stream will tend to get lodged in the resin bed, which can cause problems such as channeling. Additionally, since AMBERPACK™ uses a low-flow regeneration step, there generally is not enough of a scrubbing effect to dislodge the particles and flush them out of the system. As a result, a facility will likely need to take steps to prevent or mitigate solids in the stream, generally by implementing some form of pre-treatment, such as clarification and/or filtration, as well as implementing a backwashing tank to periodically flush particulates from the resin.
Both DOWEX UPCORE™ and ADVANCED AMBERPACK™ offer greater chemical and water efficiency compared to conventional ion exchange technologies. Much of this has to do with flow rates at various points in their usage cycles. In short, where ADVANCED AMBERPACK™ requires a minimum flow rate during service cycles, DOWEX UPCORE™ does not. This is a function of the upflow service in AMBERPACK™, which demands an adequate minimum flow velocity to ensure that the resin remains packed against the upper surface of the vessel. If the minimum flow rate is not maintained throughout the service mode, then the resin may fall to the bottom of the unit, potentially resulting in uneven resin exhaustion and contaminant leakage, and leading to excess regeneration cycles.
In UPCORE™, the downward flow direction of the service mode means that no minimum flow rate is required to ensure that the stream is evenly distributed throughout the resin. As a result, UPCORE™ allows facilities have more control and flexibility of their flow rate during service mode, allowing for greater flexibility in terms of stream volume and resin contact time.
How SAMCO can help
SAMCO has over 40 years’ experience in identifying efficient IX resin technologies and regeneration strategies to minimize downtime and maintain consistent product quality. For more information or to get in touch, contact us here to set up a consultation with an engineer or request a quote. We can walk you through the steps for developing the proper solution and realistic cost for your IX treatment system needs.
If you want to learn more about ion exchange resins, these other articles might be of interest to you:
- How Much Does It Cost to Buy, Maintain, and Dispose of Ion Exchange Resins?
- Common Problems with Ion Exchange Resins and How to Avoid Them
- What are the Best (and Cheapest) Ways to Dispose of Ion Exchange Resins?
- What is the Difference Between Cation and Anion Exchange Resins?
- What Are the Different Types of Ion Exchange Resins and What Applications Do They Serve?
- What Are the Best Ion Exchange Resin Manufacturing and Supply Companies?
- What Is Ion Exchange Resin and How Does It Work?