Influence of dissolved organic carbon content on modelling natural organic matter acid–base properties

Abstract : Natural organic matter (NOM) behaviour towards proton is an important parameter to understand NOM fate in the environment. Moreover, it is necessary to determine NOM acid–base properties before investigating trace metals complexation by natural organic matter. This work focuses on the possibility to determine these acid–base properties by accurate and simple titrations, even at low organic matter concentrations. So, the experiments were conducted on concentrated and diluted solutions of extracted humic and fulvic acid from Laurentian River, on concentrated and diluted model solutions of well-known simple molecules (acetic and phenolic acids), and on natural samples from the Seine river (France) which are not pre-concentrated. Titration experiments were modelled by a 6 acidic-sites discrete model, except for the model solutions. The modelling software used, called PROSECE (Programme d'Optimisation et de SpEciation Chimique dans l'Environnement), has been developed in our laboratory, is based on the mass balance equilibrium resolution. The results obtained on extracted organic matter and model solutions point out a threshold value for a confident determination of the studied organic matter acid–base properties. They also show an aberrant decreasing carboxylic/phenolic ratio with increasing sample dilution. This shift is neither due to any conformational effect, since it is also observed on model solutions, nor to ionic strength variations which is controlled during all experiments. On the other hand, it could be the result of an electrode troubleshooting occurring at basic pH values, which effect is amplified at low total concentration of acidic sites. So, in our conditions, the limit for a correct modelling of NOM acid–base properties is defined as 0.04 meq of total analysed acidic sites concentration. As for the analysed natural samples, due to their high acidic sites content, it is possible to model their behaviour despite the low organic carbon concentration.
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Cédric Garnier, Stehane Mounier, Jean-Yves Benaïm. Influence of dissolved organic carbon content on modelling natural organic matter acid–base properties. Water Research, IWA Publishing, 2004, 38, pp.3685 - 3692. ⟨10.1016/j.watres.2004.05.019⟩. ⟨hal-01096790⟩

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