Solving Hardness and Design Issues in a Steam Iron Application

A popular European household appliance manufacturer approached Purolite to improve a water softening cartridge in their high-end steam generator irons. Although the company offered the softening feature for several years in the marketplace, it was not performing as it should and consumer satisfaction was low.

The problem was with the steam feature. After some cycles of operation, scale formed and blocked the steam nozzle and as well as collected on the plate of the iron, resulting in less effective ironing and even damage to garments. The company tested numerous resins including an H+ form Weak Acid Cation (WAC) resin, an Na+ form Weak Acid Cation, as well as mixed bed resins—but results remained lackluster.

The company had very specific targets for treated water quality and quantity. However, the current resin had significant difficulty meeting the targets when the inlet water was varying quality for customers in different regions and countries.

For example, WAC resin in H+ form was not able to reduce total hardness to the target level in low alkalinity water, while WAC in Na+ form left residual salinity and high pH that would prove detrimental to the aluminum ironing plate. Moreover, classic mixed bed resin didn’t have high enough operating capacity and would not be able to last the lifetime of the iron. The customer became increasingly frustrated about not being able to improve the inadequate test results.

Based on Purolite’s reputation as a leader in resin cartridges as well as demineralizer resins, we were contacted to help their engineering team evaluate solutions.

Purolite suggested that the company try an unconventional mixed bed resin composed of a SAC resin and a WBA resin, Purolite® MB59VC. We also made suggestions to the cartridge design so that it was able to take full advantage of the resin characteristics.

When put to the test, the Purolite® MB59VC cartridge and resin provided water free of hardness with low salinity and an ideal pH.

In addition to meeting the water targets, the Purolite resin offered an additional benefit of an exhaustion indicator, that showed when the resin cartridge needed to be replaced. This added significant value to consumers and became the focus of the product’s new marketing campaign.

Purolite was very successful in helping the customer find suitable media for their high-end steam irons that would last the lifetime of the appliance and meet the performance guarantee offered to consumers.

The Purolite technical team worked in close collaboration with the customer for over six months to develop a solution for both the resin and cartridge design. that proved successful and helped rebuild the product's reputation.

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