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Revista Brasileira de Ciência do Solo

Print version ISSN 0100-0683On-line version ISSN 1806-9657


VERGUTZ, Leonardus et al. Thermodynamic Characterization of Humic Acid-surfactant Interaction: New Insights into the Characteristics and Structure of Humic Acids. Rev. Bras. Ciênc. Solo [online]. 2015, vol.39, n.6, pp.1633-1642. ISSN 0100-0683.

Humic acids (HA) are a component of humic substances (HS), which are found in nearly all soils, sediments, and waters. They play a key role in many, if not most, chemical and physical properties in their environment. Despite the importance of HA, their high complexity makes them a poorly understood system. Therefore, understanding the physicochemical properties and interactions of HA is crucial for determining their fundamental role and obtaining structural details. Cationic surfactants are known to interact electrostatically and hydrophobically with HA. Because they are a very well-known and characterized system, they offer a good choice as molecular probes for studying HA. The objective of this study was to evaluate the interaction between cationic surfactants and HA through isothermal titration calorimetry in a thermodynamic manner, aiming to obtain information about the basic structure of HA, the nature of this interaction, and if HA from different origins show different basic structures. Contrary to what the supramolecular model asserts, HA structure is not loosely held, though it may separate depending on the conditions the HA are subjected to in their milieu. It did not show any division or conformational change when interacting with surfactants. The basic structure of the HA remains virtually the same regardless of the different sources and compositions of these HA.

Keywords : enthalpy; humic substances; isothermal titration calorimetry; macromolecular structure; microcalorimetry; supramolecular structure.

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