Concentrations of organic matter in the general range of 1-10 milligrams per litre organic carbon are common in natural water, and many naturally occurrin7 organic compounds form aluminum complexes. The aluminum concentrations in near-neutral pH solutions may be 10-100 times higher than the values predicted from solubility data if formation of such organic complexes is ignored. The processes of polymerization of aluminum hydroxide and precipitation of gibbsite are inhibited by the presence of the organic flavone compound quercetin in concentrations as low as 10 x -5.3 mole per litre. Quercetin forms a complex, with a probable molar ratio of 1:2 aluminum to quercetin, that has a formation constant (f12) of about 10 12. A complex with a higher aluminum-quercetin ratio also was observed, but this material tends to evolve into a compound of low solubility that removes aluminum from solution.
In the presence of both dissolved aluminum and aqueous silica, low concentrations of quercetin improved the yield of crystallized kaolinite and halloysite. Small amounts of well-shaped kaolinite and halloysite crystals were identified by electron microscopy in solutions with pH's in the range 6.5-8.5 after 155 days aging in one experimer t and 481 days aging in a repeated experiment. The bulk of the precipitated material was amorphous to X-rays, and crystalline material was too small a proportion of the total to give identifiable X-ray diffraction peaks. The precipitates had aluminum-silicon ratios near 1, and their solubility corresponded to that found by Hem, Roberson, Lind, and Polzer (1973) for similar aluminosilicate precipitated in the absence of organic solutes. The improved yield of crystalline material obtained in the presence of quercetin probably is the result of the influence of the organic compound on the aluminum hydroxide polymerization process.
Natural water containing color imparted by organic material tends to be higher in aluminum than would be predicted by pH, silica concentrations, and solubility data for inorganic aluminum species.
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Effects of organic solutes on chemical reactions of aluminum