Sorption and desorption of naphthalene by soil organic matter: importance of aromatic and aliphatic components

Journal of Environmental Quality
Amrith S Gunasekara, Baoshan Xing


Nonlinear isotherm behavior has been reported for the sorption of hydrophobic organic compounds (HOCs) in soil organic matter (SOM), but the exact mechanisms are unknown. Our objective was to provide insight into the sorption mechanism of HOCs in SOM by studying the sorption-desorption processes of naphthalene in a mineral soil, its humic fractions, and lignin. Additionally, humin and lignin were used for studying the effects of temperature and cosolvent on HOC sorption. All isotherms were nonlinear. The humin and lignin isotherms became more linear at elevated temperatures and with the addition of methanol indicating a condensed to expanded structural phase transition. Isotherm nonlinearity and hysteresis increased in the following order: soil humic acid (HA) < soil < soil humin. Of the samples, aliphatic-rich humin exhibited the largest degree of nonlinearity and had the highest sorption capacity for naphthalene. High nonlinearity and hysteresis in humin were most likely caused by its condensed structure. A novel aliphatic, amorphous condensed conformation is proposed. This conformation can account for both high sorption capacities and increased nonlinearity observed for aliphatic-rich samples and can explain many sorption di...Continue Reading


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