Thermodynamic study of the complexation of humic acid by calorimetry

Shingo Kimuro, Akira Kirishima, Yoshihiro Kitatsuji, Kazuya Miyakawa, Daisuke Akiyama, Nobuaki Sato

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Although the thermodynamic quantities (Gibbs free energy, reaction enthalpy, and entropy) of the complexation of humic acid are necessary for the discussion of the reaction thermodynamics, their accurate determination, especially concerning dissolved humic acid in deep groundwater, has not been carried out. In this study, a combination of potentiometry and calorimetry was used for the determination of the thermodynamic values of complexation of typical humic acid and groundwater humic acid, which was isolated from deep groundwater at Horonobe, Hokkaido, Japan, with copper (II) ions and uranyl (VI) ions. The apparent complexation constant of Horonobe humic acid was independent of the pH of the bulk solution, whereas that of typical humic acid was dependent on the pH. This observation indicates that the polyelectrolyte effect of Horonobe humic acid is negligible because of its relatively small molecular size. In addition, the effect of the heterogeneity of Horonobe humic acid was not significant. Moreover, the complexation enthalpy of Horonobe humic acid was consistent with that of homogeneous poly(acrylic acid), which means the complexation of Horonobe humic acid was not affected by the functional group heterogeneity. Consequently, the unique complexation mechanism of Horonobe humic acid was revealed based on the determined thermodynamic quantities. The migration of radionuclides in the deep underground environment must be affected by these characteristics; thus, the accurate determination of thermodynamic quantities of in situ humic substances is very helpful for the safety assessment of geological disposal, when disposal sites for radioactive waste are chosen.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)352-362
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Chemical Thermodynamics
Publication statusPublished - 2019 May


  • Complexation enthalpy
  • Humic acid
  • Isothermal titration calorimetry
  • Reaction mechanism


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