What Are The Advantages Of Ion Exchange Chromatography?


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Among various types of chromatography, Ion-exchange chromatography (IEC) is a type of ion chromatography that is not only analytical but also a critical process used for both determination and separation of ionic compounds. It is often paired with ion partition and ion exclusion techniques of chromatography.

What Are The Advantages Of Ion Exchange Chromatography

How is separation done?

Separation using ion chromatography is wholly based on the interactions that take place between polar and ionic analytes. These interactions can either be electrostatic or ionic. These are a part of the functional groups attached to the chromatographic support; ionic and eluent functional groups.

Separation is done using two mechanisms: the exchange of ions due to attraction or otherwise called ionic bonding, and the second mechanism includes repulsion or ionic exclusion. This repulsion occurs between analyte ions that are similarly charged and ions that are fixed on chromatographic support.

The mechanism utilizing the exchange of ions has been the most widely used method of ion chromatography. This chromatography is a vital technique for the adsorption used to separate proteins, nucleic acids, peptides, and related biopolymers.

These molecules are charged molecules that are of varying molecular sizes and composition. The separation is dependent on the ionic bond formation between the groups of biomolecules ion-exchange or support molecules that are oppositely charged.

Due to the different charge properties of charged chromatography media, biomolecules interact differently with them.

How is it done?

Ion exchange chromatography is used to separate ionic and cationic substances. It has identical liquid and solid phases in other chromatography techniques.

It requires the separation of polar and ionic analytes on chromatography media that have oppositely charged functional groups.

Applications and Advantages of IEC

It is also commonly employed in the study of protein mixtures for analysis with ion-exchange chromatography. More than twenty amino acids from blood serum or protein are used in clinical diagnostic procedures.

This method is the most effective way of removing impurities from water. Using a mixture of hydroxide and anions and hydronium ions turns a non-electrolyte basic solution into a completely electrolyzed solution. Water-based lotions are the standard way to increase the water retention of collagen in the skin.

Content preparation for DNA and RNA nucleic acid hydrolysis studies depict the type of molecular substances that serve as biological carriers of genetic material and how they relate to biology.

Resins used in ion exchange are a simple and cost-effective method for purifying, isolating, and decontaminating solutions that contain ionic species. Apart from being less expensive, these processes are also reversible.

These exchanges can also be generated again by treating a solution with displaced ions. Separation of biomolecules and organic acids, like proteins and peptides and proteins, are typically termed laboratory applications.

In contrast, industrial applications include the purification of metals, water, etc. They are also used in the pharma, food, and beverage industries, along with semiconductor and nuclear industries.

Water Treatment

The most common application, and advantage of ion exchange, is to treat water. Hard water contains magnesium and calcium salts in abundance. Sodium ions replace magnesium and calcium ions at active sites.

When the resin is softened, it is generated again with a solution of sodium chloride which acts as a solvent. Every time water flows in, the active site is supplied with sodium ions present in the resin. This helps to soften the substance.

Purification of Water and metals

This method utilizes ion exchange resins to extract potentially hazardous from the solution. These heavy metals are cadmium and lead.

In some instances, ion exchangers are used to isolating plutonium and uranium that are considered radioactive elements. Though ion exchange has traditionally been preferred, solvent extraction has significantly aided in separating the actinide and lanthanide element groups.

IEC is also used in processing by-products of hazardous waste materials and the manufacturing/production of nuclear fuels.


Ion exchange resins isolate fermentation broths from antibiotics to mask the odor and taste of various drug compounds.

Food and Beverage

Ion exchange resins are used in various applications in the fruit and beverage industries to enhance taste and flavor by removing undesirable components. The removal of bad taste, preventing discoloration, and removing trace metals ensure the longevity and sales of the product.

With so many applications and advantages, IEC is turning out into the most used technique as it is efficient. By reducing and using alternatives for the brine, it can also be made sustainable.

It is the perfect solution for the changing standards and situations of the current world. IEC is paving the way for a safer, more efficient future.


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