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ECN publication
Molecular Features of Humic Acids and Fulvic Acids from Contrasting Environments
Schellekens, J. |; Buurman, P.; Kalbitz, K.; Zomeren, A. van; Vidal-Torrado, P.; Cerli, C.; Comans, R.N.J.
Published by: Publication date:
ECN Environment & Energy Engineering 24-8-2017
ECN report number: Document type:
ECN-W--17-020 Article (scientific)
Number of pages:

Published in: Environmental Science & Technology (American Chemical Society), , 2017, Vol., p.-.

Insight in the molecular structure of humic acid(HA) and fulvic acid (FA) can contribute to identify relationships between their molecular properties, and further our quantitative abilities to model important organic matter functions such as metal complexation and association with mineral surfaces. Pyrolysis gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (Py-GC-MS) is used to compare the molecular composition of HA and FA. A systematic comparison was obtained by using samples from di?erent environmental sources, including solid and aqueous samples from both natural and waste sources. The chemical signature of the pyrolysates was highly variable and no signi?cant di?erence between HA and FA was found for major chemical groups, that is, carbohydrates, phenols, benzenes, and lignin phenols, together accounting for 62-96% of all quanti?ed pyrolysis products. However, factor analysis showed that within each sample, FAs consistently di?ered from corresponding HAs in a larger contribution from mono- and polyaromatic hydrocarbons and heterocyclic hydrocarbons, together accounting for 3.9-44.5% of the quanti?ed pyrolysis products. This consistent di?erence between FAs and corresponding HAs, suggests that their binding properties may, in addition to the carboxyl and phenolic groups, be in?uenced by the molecular architecture. Py-GC-MS may thus contribute to identify relationships between HA and FA binding- and molecular-properties.

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