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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract -

Inhibition of Hydroxyapatite Precipitation in the Presence of Fulvic, Humic, and Tannic Acids


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 52 No. 4, p. 941-946
    Received: June 22, 1987

    * Corresponding author(s):
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  1. William P. Inskeep  and
  2. Jeffrey C. Silvertooth
  1. Dep. of Plant and Soil Science, Montana State Univ., Bozeman, MT 59717-0002
    Univ. of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721



The kinetics of precipitation of hydroxyapatite (Ca5(PO4)3OH, HAP) may be important in explaining the oversaturation of many natural waters with respect to pure HAP. Consequently, the objectives of this study were to determine the rate of HAP precipitation in the absence and presence of organic acids commonly found in soil solutions, which might act as potential inhibitors of solid phase precipitation. In well-stirred solutions, the forward rate of HAP precipitation (R) between pH 7.4 to 8.4 was described with the experimentally derived rate equation: R = skfγ2γ3[Ca2+][PO3-4], where s = HAP surface area (m2L−1), kf = forward rate constant (L2mol−1m−2s−1), γ2 and γ3 = di- and trivalent ion activity coefficients calculated from the Davies equation, and brackets represent concentrations of free hydrated species (mol L−1). The average kf in the absence of organic acids was 173 ± 11 L2mol−1m−2s−1. In the presence of 0.6 mM, 0.68 mM and 0.98 mM CTS (total soluble organic C) added as fulvic, humic, or tannic acid, the kf decreased to 2, 19, and 16 L2mol−1m−2s−1, respectively. The mechanism of precipitation inhibition in the presence of these acids appears to be adsorption of the organic ligand on the HAP seed crystals, thereby blocking sites for crystal growth. Smaller molecular weight organic acids such as citric, gallic, syringic, adipic, and azealic acid were not as effective at inhibiting HAP precipitation per unit CTS present, which may indicate the importance of larger molecular weight acids on actual physical coverage at the HAP surface. The inhibition of HAP precipitation in the presence of humic, fulvic, and tannic acids may explain why many soil solutions are supersaturated with respect to pure HAP, and why increases in P concentrations are observed in many agricultural studies in the presence of sludge or manure.

Contribution from the Oklahoma Agric. Exp. Stn., Dep. of Agronomy, Oklahoma State Univ., Stillwater, OK 74078, and the Montana Agric. Exp. Stn., no. J-2015, Dep. of Plant and Soil Science, Bozeman, MT 59717.

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