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A facility in Boston, Massachusetts received a ProChem Metaloc (Metals-Selective Ion-Exchange) system.

The Metaloc system is a standalone, skid-mounted system that will remove lead and other water contaminates from wastewater generated from battery washing operations at the facility.

The system is set up to treat in batches at a flow rate of up to 6gpm. The treated water will be recirculated and reused, eliminating the need to discharge to the sanitary sewer system. The system is equipped with electronic sensors to monitor flow, conductivity, pressure, and water level with alarm capabilities. The columns are dual arrangement such that one set may be put in-service while the other set is being regenerated at the ProChem regeneration facility.

About Wet Testing

Before we ship a system to a customer site for installation, we test it here in our facility in Virginia. We call it a "wet test." Wet testing includes running water through the system, testing and calibrating instruments, checking for leaks, simulating scenarios, training Technical Services staff, applying finishing touches, and ensuring all the pieces are functional and present before shipping.

ProChem is currently starting up a 10gpm CWP - continuous flow wastewater treatment system at a leading global securities company. The system will remove heavy metals and suspended solids from their waste stream before discharging it.  The following images are from the wet testing that was conducted on this CWP system.

 T104 Filling with Water

T104 filling with water for the wet test.


Technician, Turner Ward, calibrating a pH sensor.


Technical Services Representative, Scott Buff, getting familiar with the HMI.


I & C Manager, Mark Trussell, triple checking the PLC program.

Next Steps

After the successful we test, this system was shipped to Utah for installation. The installation and start-up process is now nearly complete. This process includes operations training and dedicated Technical Services staff on site. They are there to ensure that the system is running effectively, that the operations staff is ready to operate it on their own, and that our customer's expectations have been met--before we leave the site.

Watch a video from the wet testing on our YouTube channel:

What is Ammonia?

Ammonia (NH3) is a compound that is made of two gases: nitrogen (N) and hydrogen (H). It is colorless and has a distinct odor. Ammonia is used in many industries. In agriculture, for example, it is used for fertilizer. It is also used in food processing, metal finishing, chemical synthesis, ceramic production, oil refining, and many other industries. All of these industries produce wastewater that will contain concentrations of the Ammonia they use in their manufacturing process. Some forms of Ammonia are toxic to the environment.

What does Ammonia do in water?

When Ammonia reacts with water, it forms a weak base (pH >7). Two species of this compound exist in water: ionized NH4 (Ammonium) and non-ionized NH3 (Ammonia). It is the non-ionized form that is toxic. Generally, the equilibrium shifts toward a greater amount of non-ionized toxic NH3 with increasing pH. NH3 + H2O ↔ NH4 + OH One molecule of Ammonia reacts with one molecule of water to form an Ammonium ion and Hydroxyl ion. As the pH increases, the reaction moves more to the left, and the amount of toxic Ammonia increases. Concentrations of Ammonia (NH3) ranging between 0.5 ppm to 23 ppm are toxic to freshwater aquatic life. Ammonium is broken down by aerobic organisms to form nitrate (NO3) in a two step process: 2 NH4+ + 3 O2 → 2 NO2− + 2 H2O + 4 H+ 2 NO2− + O2 → 2 NO3− Ammonia can also complicate wastewater treatment by complexing the metals that are concentrated in the wastewater, making the metals more difficult to remove.

How is wastewater treated for Ammonia?

There are many methods for removing Ammonia/Ammonium from industrial wastewater. Some of the more common methods are listed here:

  • Conventional activated sludge: A biological treatment method. This method requires expensive capital equipment and large tanks or concrete basins.
  • Aeration: A time consuming and expensive method. This method requires a capital equipment investment and is used with conventional activated sludge to break down organic matter.
  • SBR (Sequencing Batch Reactor): This process usually has several treatment steps that may include conventional activated sludge and aeration, in addition to a third and fourth step. This method requires an expensive capital investment and most often uses concrete basins.
  • Ion-Exchange: The most economical method. This method requires lower capital investment in equipment and has a smaller footprint even for a large application. The same resins that are used to remove the Ammonia/Ammonium will also remove nitrates simultaneously.

ProChem strives to help their customers establish the highest level of credibility and a positive reputation within the regulatory community. Their goal is to significantly reduce the amount of fresh water that manufacturers require by providing sustainable solutions that will also benefit the customer’s bottom line.

What are Ion-Exchange resins?

Ion-exchange resins are small, porous beads that are negatively or positively charged, allowing them to grab onto ions (contaminants in the water) that are attracted to that charge. These resins are solvents (insoluble in water), and they range in diameter from 0.3 to 1.5 mm. Resin is placed in a vessel, usually called a column, and submerged in water where it forms a layer on the bottom called a bed. The bed absorbs water and swells when it is first immersed. Immersion conditions the resin. When the resin is fully conditioned, the beads contain 50 - 70% water.

Wastewater is passed through the resin columns while the resin bed is gently agitated. The agitation allows the water to flow uniformly around the resin beads. The agitation actually increases the amount of surface area that comes in contact with a wastewater, which increases the likelihood that the porous openings will come into contact with ions. Imagine the resin bead as a ball covered in holes. As the ball rolls and bounces in the wastewater, its holes become exposed to the particles suspended in the water. Due to the charge, if the ions come into contact with the resin, they will be attracted to it and become trapped in the pores.

There are two main types of resins: Cationic and Anionic. Cationic (pronounced like "kat-eye-on") resins are negatively charged and remove positively charged cations. Here are some examples of ions that can be removed by Cationic resins: Chrome (Cr), Nickel (Ni), Zinc (Zn), Copper (Cu), Lead (Pb), Calcium (Ca), and Ammonia (NH3).

Anionic resins are positively charged and remove negatively charged anions. Here are some examples of ions that can be removed by Anionic resins: Chlorides (Cl), Sulfates (SO4), Nitrates (NO3), Carbonates (CO3), Phosphate (PO3), Bromide (Br), and Hydroxide (OH).

Why use Ion-Exchange resins for wastewater treatment?

Ion-exchange resins fill a unique niche when it comes to wastewater treatment. They are ideal for treating waste streams that are lower in total suspended solids (TSS) and in contaminant levels than those treated with a chemical program. Other advantages include:

  • No sludge generated. If the wastewater being treated is from an electroplating operation, for example, sludge is considered F006 hazardous and can be very expensive to haul off.
  • Less labor intensive than chemical treatment.
  • Columns ship easily and are usually considered non-hazardous.
  • Much smaller space requirements than a chemical treatment system. A system that treats 10 gpm - 20 gpm can easily fit in approximately a 4 x 10 footprint.
  • Lower overall operation cost.

There are several suppliers that offer ion-exchange resins and the columns. The simplest way to use ion-exchange is by utilizing a column exchange program, which is available through certain vendors. These programs allow you to exchange your exhausted columns for regenerated ones without impeding your wastewater treatment process or production. Contact an industrial water treatment company who can help you select the most effective resin, install the system, and set up a routine column exchange program that works for your facility.

ProChem strives to help their customers establish the highest level of credibility and a positive reputation within the regulatory community. Their goal is to significantly reduce the amount of fresh water that manufacturers require by providing sustainable solutions that will also benefit the customer’s bottom line.

ProChem, Inc. is proud to announce that we will be designing and building a continuous flow wastewater treatment system for an international chemical manufacturer located in Georgia. The wastewater treatment system will treat 50 gallons per minute of water, removing fluoride and suspended solids. The system will also be equipped with controls instrumentation and monitoring.

Congratulations to the ProChem team and to our new customer for finding a solution to their water problem.