The copper complexation ability of a synthetic humic-like acid formed by an abiotic humification process and the effect of experimental factors on its copper complexation ability

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Humic acids have an important impact on the distribution, toxicity and bioavailability of hazardous metals in the environment. In this study, a synthetic humic-like acid (SHLA) was prepared by an abiotic humification process using catechol and glycine as humic precursors and a MnO2 catalyst. The effect of physico-chemical conditions (ionic strength from 0.01M to 0.5M NaNO3, pH from 4 to 8, temperature from 25 °C to 45 °C and humic acid concentration from 5 to 100mg/L) on the complexation ability of SHLA for Cu2+ were investigated. A commercial humic acid (CHA, CAS: 1415-93-6) from Sigma-Aldrich was also studied for comparison. The results showed that for pH 4 to 8, the conditional stability constants (log K) of SHLA and CHA were in the range 5.63-8.62 and 4.87-6.23, respectively and complexation capacities (CC) were 1.34-2.61 mmol/g and 1.42-2.31 mmol/g, respectively. The Cu complexation ability of SHLA was higher than that of the CHA due to its higher number of acidic functional groups (SHLA: 19.19 mmol/g; CHA: 3.87 mmol/g), extent of humification and aromaticity (AL/AR: 0.333 (SHLA); 1.554 (CHA)), and O-alkyl functional groups (SHLA:15.56%; CHA:3.45%). The log K and complexation efficiency (fraction of metal bound to SHLA) of SHLA were higher at higher pH, lower ionic strength, higher temperature and higher SHLA concentration. Overall, SHLA was a good and promising complexation agent for copper in both soil washing of copper contaminated soil and the treatment of copper-containing wastewater
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15873-15884
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental science and pollution research
Early online date26 Mar 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Mar 2018

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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.


  • remediation
  • soil
  • humic acids
  • copper
  • contaminated soil
  • EGU 2018

    Ting Yang (Presenter) & Mark Edward Hodson (Advisor)

    8 Apr 201813 Apr 2018

    Activity: Participating in or organising an eventConference

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