Polycarboxylic acid structures that account for the strong-acid characteristics (pKa1 near 2.0) were examined for fulvic acid from the Suwannee River. Studies of model compounds demonstrated that pKa values near 2.0 occur only if the ??-ether or ??-ester groups were in cyclic structures with two to three additional electronegative functional groups (carboxyl, ester, ketone, aromatic groups) at adjacent positions on the ring. Ester linkage removal by alkaline hydrolysis and destruction of ether linkages through cleavage and reduction with hydriodic acid confirmed that the strong carboxyl acidity in fulvic acid was associated with polycarboxylic ??-ether and ??-ester structures. Studies of hypothetical structural models of fulvic acid indicated possible relation of these polycarboxylic structures with the amphiphilic and metal-binding properties of fulvic acid.
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Strong-acid, carboxyl-group structures in fulvic acid from the Suwannee River, Georgia. 2. Major structures