Humic Acid

SUMMARY OF NEW HUMIC ACID DISCOVERIES

I give a summary of the new humic acid discoveries that I have made and described in detail in other sections of this site.

I have reverted back to the term humic acids rather than humic substances because my studies have shown that there is no complex, mystical conversion of lignins to humic acids via microbial action in soils. I found that the humic acids have definite structures, all of which contain the carboxylate group.

Important discoveries regarding humic acids include:

1. Microbial alteration of plant organics does not form humic acids. The processes are entirely chemical.

2. Humic acids are entirely aliphatic copolymers of several principal monomeric units originating from polysaccharides containing xylose, arabinose, ribose and fructose sugars. Because there are so many possible monomeric units in the molecule, the variability in structure is enormous. However, the polymerisation process consists of a small number of well-known reactions to form copolymers of molecular weight near 1000 u.

3. The aliphatic structures readily change to aromatic structures, which however, are not related to lignin-derived compounds such as vanillic and syringic acids.

4. THEY POSSESS A UNIQUE CONJUGATED CHELATE CARBONYL (KETO-ENOL) MOIETY THAT CHANGES ITS EQUILIBRIUM WITH THE ENVIRONMENT. THIS RESULTS IN A DIFFERENT HUMIC ACID STRUCTURE FOR EACH ENVIRONMENT, SUCH AS A DIFFERENT SOLVENT OR PHYSICAL STATE. THIS APPEARS TO GIVE HUMIC ACIDS AN INFININTE NUMBER OF COMPONENTS, AND NO DOUBT HAS SIGNIFICANTLY CONTRIBUTED TO THE MYSTERY SURROUNDING THEIR STRUCTURE AND COMPOSITION.

5. They stick to almost any substance, including large proteins, minerals, and soil particles. Because of this they can, for example, solubilize 10x their own weight of clay particles. If they are not rigorously separated from these particles, they can appear to be extremely large molecules even though they are not.

6. They degrade readily by well-known chemical pathways (e.g. decarboxylation) to form kerogen, bitumen, asphalt, shale oil, petroleum, and coal tar, the exact conversion probably depending on time and external conditions in the natural environment.

7. Their natural conversions can be readily mimicked and altered in the laboratory, but with greater control. Therefore new compounds unknown in nature but related to components of kerogen, bitumen, asphalt, shale oil, and petroleum can be synthesized in the laboratory.

Important discoveries regarding their study and structure include:

1. To study humic acids per se, environmental samples must be rigorously purified. This includes filtering an alkaline solution through a 0.1 µm filter to remove minerals, extracting an acidified solution into an organic solvent such as ethyl acetate and/ or n-butanol, and preparing a derivative such as the n-butyl ester and extracting it into an organic solvent such as dichloromethane.

2. Care must be taken with investigative methods to ensure that humic acids per se are being measured, and not contaminants such as lignin degradation products. NMR and FT-MS techniques may not detect humic acids, and chromatography can result in a smearing of components over the entire column. Solution IR and fluorescence techniques have been found to be the most useful. The most promising techniques for elucidating structures of individual humic acids appear to be column chromatography separations of derivatized humic acids followed by HPLC-MS.

3. Humic acids originate from polysaccharides containing xylose, arabinose, and fructose. Xylose and arabinose oxidize and polymerize via the furfural and 4-oxo-2-butenoic acid pathway, and fructose oxidizes and polymerizes via the 5-hydroxymethyl furfural and 4-oxo-2-butenoic acid pathway.

4. Humic acids are a complex mixture of polymers and copolymers containing the following groups (how these groups are arranged is not currently known, and end groups are not shown):

 

 

 

3 Comments »

  1. I am fascinated by your work—wonderful job. Thanks, jamie

    Comment by jamie — 2009 @ 1:29 am

  2. Another Fantastic wordpress post, I will be sure to bookmark this in my Newsvine account. Have a good day.

    Comment by Rebecca Abeita — 2009 @ 2:16 pm

  3. really wonderful work. great achievement.
    hats off your work.
    thanking yours
    nandi, nandimbr@gmail.com.

    Comment by nandimbr — 2009 @ 3:54 am


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