Solving the mystery of decreased throughput in a copper mine mixed bed polishing system.
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A copper mine and smelter in Magna, Utah has a twin mixed bed water polishing system utilizing Purolite UCW3900 resin that treats reverse osmosis permeate which feeds a high-pressure boiler. When the resin was first installed, throughput of the system was 300kgals in both units. Over the years the throughput diminished to 200kgals and 100kgals in Unit A and Unit B respectfully. Further, the amount of chemicals and water used during the regeneration process had increased.
The copper mine’s Water Operations Group heard about PuroPASS™, a comprehensive, on-site evaluation performed by Purolite’s expert field sales staff. The process examines current ion exchange systems with the purpose of improving cost and efficiency. Purolite was invited to the copper mine to look for improvements that could be made to increase throughput.
It was determined that changes in staffing resulted in neglecting to operate the polishing system under standard guidelines based on resin selection and system type. A thorough two-day PuroPASS™ analysis, which included evaluating the client’s water, regeneration procedures, and chemical make-up, presented further findings in the change in throughput. Resin had diminished in one of the units and both were low in volume, one significantly. Additionally, the ratio between cation and anions was not in specification with OEM parameters. Finally, contrary to proper procedure, backwash rates remained the same during summer and winter operations leading to the loss of resin.
To provide a solution, resin was completely replaced in one unit and topped off in the other. The PuroPASS™ analysis also provided proper protocols regarding time, volume, and flow rate for the regeneration process. Backwash rates were individualized for cold and warm temperatures. Throughput increased 33% to 400kgals between regeneration. Finally, the amount of chemical and waste water produced was reduced providing additional savings
The copper mine continues to use Purolite resins in their water polishing system and reports that the system is working and performing very well.