Table 1: The main development steps of ion exchange [8, 9].

Scientist name/sourceBreakthrough in field of ion exchangeYear

BibleMoses experiments water debitteri.~1400 BC
AristotleAristotle finds that sea water loses part of its salt contents when percolated through certain sand.~330 BC
H. S. ThompsonThompson passed a solution of manure through a filter made of ordinary garden soil and found that the ammonia was removed from solution.1845
H. S. Thompson and J. T. Way
J. Spence
Recognition of the phenomenon of ion exchange and a description of its basic characteristics.
The ion exchange property of soils was found to be based on their containing small amounts of zeolites.
1848–1852
H. EichornProved that the adsorption of ions by clays and zeolites constitutes a reversible reaction.1858
J. LembergZeolites recognized as carriers of base exchange in soils; equivalence of exchange of bases proved.1876
F. Harm, A. Rumpher, S. Mayert, and K. HalseArtificial zeolites used for removal of potassium from sugar juices. First synthetic industrial ion exchanger. Manufacture of sulphonated coals and suggestion for the removal of potassium from sugar juices.1901–1902
R. GansDiscovered that the zeolites could be used to soften hard water. He also invented processes for synthesizing zeolites and designed the equipment—the zeolite water softner used for the recovery of gold from sea water.1905
O. Folin, R. BellThe first analytical application of ion exchange.1917
J. WhitehornThe first use of ion exchange in column chromatography.1923
A. BahrdtThe first use of ion exchange column for anion analysis.1927
O. LeibknechtThe entirely new types of cation exchangers were developed. Not only could they be used in the sodium cycle when regenerated with salt, but also in the hydrogen cycle when regenerated with an acid. One group of these cation exchangers was the carbonaceous type, which was made by the sulphonation of coal.1934–1939
B. A. Adams and E. L. HolmesSynthesis of the first organic ion exchanger.1934–1935
G.F. D’alelioInvention of sulphonated polystyrene polymerization cation exchangers.1942
G. E. Boyd, J. Schubert, and A. W. AdamsonDemonstration of the applicability of ion exchange for adsorption of fission products in traced amounts.1942
C. H. McburneyInvention of aminated polystyrene polymerization anion exchangers.1947
A. SkogseidPreparation of potassium-specific polystyrene cation—exchanger chelating resin.1947
J. A. Marinsky, L. E. Glendenin, and C. D. CoryellThe discovery of promethium, an element found in nature, is attributed to ion exchange.1947
D. K. Hale, D. Reiechenberg, N. E. Topp, and C. G. ThomasDevelopment of carboxylic addition polymers as weak acid cation exchangers.1949–1956
R. M. Barrer and D. W. BreckNew zeolites as molecular sieves with ion exchange properties.1951–1956
H. P. Gregor, K. W. Pepper, and L. R. MorrisInvention and development of chelating polymers.1952–1971
M. A. Peterson, H. A. SoberDevelopment of cellulose ion exchangers.1956
F. HelfferichFoundation laid for the new theoretical treatment of ion exchange.1959
T. R. E. Kressmann and J. R. MillarInvention and development of isoporous ion exchange resins.1960
J. WeissThermally regenerable ion-exchange and water desalination based on them.1964