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Journal Articles Chemical Geology Year : 2007

Rare earth elements complexation with humic acid

Olivier Pourret
Aline Dia


The binding of rare earth elements (REE) to humic acid (HA) was studied by combining ultrafiltration and Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry techniques. REE­HA complexation experiments were performed at various pH conditions (ranging from 2 to 10.5) using a standard batch equilibration method. Results show that the amount of REE bound to HA strongly increases with increasing pH. Moreover, a Middle-REE (MREE) downward concavity is evidenced by REE distribution patterns at acidic pH. Modelling of the experimental data using Humic Ion Binding Model VI provided a set of log KMA values (i.e., the REE­HA complexation constants specific to Model VI) for the entire REE series. The log KMA pattern obtained displays a MREE downward concavity. Log KMA values range from 2.42 to 2.79. These binding constants are in good agreement with the few existing datasets quantifying the binding of REE with humic substances but quite different from a recently published study which evidence a lanthanide contraction effect (i.e., continuous increase of the constant from La to Lu). The MREE downward concavity displayed by REE­HA complexation pattern determined in this study compares well with results from REE­fulvic acid (FA) and REE­acetic acid complexation studies. This similarity in the REE complexation pattern suggests that carboxylic groups are the main binding sites of REE in HA. This conclusion is further illustrated by a detailed review of published studies for natural, organic-rich, river- and ground-waters which show no evidence of a lanthanide contraction effect in REE pattern. Finally, application of Model VI using the new, experimentally determined log KMA values to World Average River Water confirms earlier suggestions that REE occur predominantly as organic complexes (= 60%) in the pH range between 5­5.5 and 7­8.5 (i.e., in circumneutral pH waters). The only significant difference as compared to earlier model predictions made using estimated log KMA values is that the experimentally determined log KMA values predict a significantly higher amount of Light-REE bound to organic matter under alkaline pH conditions.


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insu-00180039 , version 1 (17-10-2007)



Olivier Pourret, Mélanie Davranche, Gérard Gruau, Aline Dia. Rare earth elements complexation with humic acid. Chemical Geology, 2007, 243 (1-2), pp.128-141. ⟨10.1016/j.chemgeo.2007.05.018⟩. ⟨insu-00180039⟩
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