Humic acids: Their detergent qualities and potential uses in pollution remediation

Ray von Wandruszka
2000 Geochemical Transactions  
Humic acids are amphiphilic species whose behavior in aqueous solution suggests that they form pseudomicellesÐaggregates akin to the micelles familiar from synthetic surfactant chemistry. It is thought that humic pseudomicelles can be formed by both intramolecular coiling and intermolecular association, depending on the molecular weight, structural characteristics, and polydispersity of the humic acid in question. The process does not feature a critical micelle concentration. Experimental
more » ... ce indicates that metal ions enhance the detergent character of dissolved humic acid by facilitating the coiling and folding of the polymer chains. A recently conceived alternative model suggests that humic acids consist of relatively small subunits that associate through weak molecular interactions. This view appears to run counter to certain experimental observations, but deserves careful attention. The strong association between metal ions and solid humic acid makes it possible to use an inexpensive commercial grade for the decontamination of polluted water. A continuous elution process through a column packed with humic acid allows for the removal of both heavy metals and organic xenobiotics from aqueous solution.
doi:10.1039/b001869o fatcat:t27fw5lw2nelpfs5tr7ucpnqpi