Effects of Humic Acid on the Crystallization of Aluminum Hydroxides1

A. Singer2 and P. M. Huang
Department of Soil Science, University of Saskatchewan Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada S7N 0W0
1 Contribution No. R.617 Saskatchewan Institute of Pedology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.
2 Permanent address: Seagram Center for Soil and Water Sciences, The Faculty of Agriculture, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot, Israel.

Abstract: The effects of humic acid (HA) on the crystallization of precipitation products of Al under mildly acidic to alkaline conditions were investigated. The extent of Al precipitation substantially decreased with increasing HA concentration (0 to 75 µg/ml) in the pH range 6 to 10 during the 80-day aging period. The X-ray powder diffraction (XRD) data show that, at pH 6.0, the amount of pseudoboehmite formed in the systems decreased with the increasing concentration of HA present. The proportion of Al hydroxide polymorphs (gibbsite and bayerite) was greatly influenced by the amounts of HA present in the systems. At pH 6.0 and HA concentration of 37.5 µg/ml, all the precipitation products of Al were noncrystalline. At pH 8.0 and a HA concentration of 12.5 µg/ml, the formation of gibbsite and bayerite was completely inhibited and only pseudoboehmite was evident in the XRD patterns. Further increase in HA concentration (25–75 µg/ml HA) at pH 8.0 resulted in no precipitation of Al, and only a broad peak at ∼3.3 Å, characteristic of HA, was observed. The XRD patterns of the precipitates of Al formed in the absence of HA at pH 10.0 showed the characteristic peaks of bayerite. At pH 10.0, the precipitation products of Al formed even at the HA concentration of 2.5 µg/ml yielded no XRD peaks. Infrared absorption spectra and transmission electron micrographs of the precipitation products of Al formed in the systems studied substantiate the findings obtained by XRD. The data obtained in this study indicate that HA affects the formation of Al hydroxide polymorphs, pseudoboehmites and short-range ordered mineral colloids.

Key Words: Aluminum hydroxide • Bayerite • Boehmite • Crystallization • Gibbsite • Humic acid • X-ray powder diffraction

Clays and Clay Minerals; February 1990 v. 38; no. 1; p. 47-52; DOI: 10.1346/CCMN.1990.0380106
© 1990, The Clay Minerals Society
Clay Minerals Society (www.clays.org)