Effects of humic material on the precipitation of calcium phosphate

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Journal Article
Geoderma, 2004, 118 pp. 245 - 260
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Soil organic acids such as humic and fulvic acids can play an important role in influencing inorganic phosphate availability in P-fertilized soils by inhibiting formation of thermodynamically stable calcium phosphates. Calcium phosphate phases which are important in these systems may include amorphous calcium phosphate (Ca9(PO4)6·nH2O; ACP), dicalcium phosphate dihydrate (CaHPO4·2H2O; DCPD, also known as brushite), octacalcium phosphate (Ca8H2(PO4)6·5H2O; OCP) and the thermodynamically most stable phase, hydroxyapatite (Ca5(PO4)3OH; HAp). In this study, the formation of these phases in the presence of soil humic acids derived from the Sydney Basin in New South Wales, Australia has been examined using the combined techniques of pH-stat autotitration, Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) and laser Raman spectroscopy, as well as X-ray diffraction (XRD) and elemental analyses. Under conditions of high supersaturation at a pH of 7.4 and a temperature of 25 °C, it was found that these soil humics delay the transformation of unstable ACP to thermodynamically more stable OCP and thence to an apatitic phase resembling poorly crystalline HAp. At the lower pH of 5.7, and in the presence of humic acids, ACP was also precipitated initially. However, this was in contrast to the humic-free solutions which produced DCPD. ACP produced in the presence of humic materials persisted longer than DCPD in their absence, before ultimately hydrolyzing to OCP. Modes of humic-calcium phosphate interaction are discussed. It has been concluded that humic materials are geologically relevant inhibitors of calcium phosphate transformation and that they may modify the availability of phosphorus in soils by changing crystallisation behaviour from solution.
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