The hardness sensor in development will allow the greatest savings in salt and water during regeneration, because the sensor is capable of detecting the exact time that regeneration is needed.
The Atlas hardness sensors:
The Atlas will be installed on the water pipe leaving a water softener. As the water softener’s resin is exhausted, calcium will begin to appear in the softened water. The Atlas is able to detect the initial breakthrough of calcium and will send a signal to the softener control valve system indicating regeneration is needed.
Water softeners are comprised of three main components: a resin tank, a brine tank, and a regeneration control system. Hard water, which contains ions of dissolved calcium, passes through a tank filled with resin beads. These beads have sodium ions that are exchanged for calcium and produce soft water until the resin is saturated with calcium. At this point, low levels of calcium will be present and the hardness sensor will send a signal indicating regeneration is required. The resin is regenerated by drawing a brine solution from the brine tank into the resin tank to displace the minerals in the resin and recharge the resin with sodium ions. A high concentration of salt is needed for regeneration to overcome the strong binding of hardness (e.g. calcium and magnesium) ions to the resin. Tap water is used to displace and rinse the brine from the resin. A waste stream containing a mixture of salt and minerals removed during the original softening process is sent to a drain for disposal.
Installation of an Atlas hardness sensor on a softener is estimated to reduce salt and water consumption dramatically. Another benefit of measuring the actual hardness level in the product water is that our direct-detection method allows for variability of incoming water quality.