Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 2008, Vol.72(4), pp.1111-1127
Iron(III) (hydr)oxides formed at extracellular biosurfaces or in the presence of exopolymeric substances of microbes and plants may significantly differ in their structural and physical properties from their inorganic counterparts. We synthesized ferrihydrite (Fh) in solutions containing acid polysaccharides [polygalacturonic acid (PGA), alginate, xanthan] and compared its properties with that of an abiotic reference by means of X-ray diffraction, transmission electron microscopy, gas adsorption (N , CO ), X-ray absorption spectroscopy, Fe Mössbauer spectroscopy, and electrophoretic mobility measurements. The coprecipitates formed contained up to 37 wt% polymer. Two-line Fh was the dominant mineral phase in all precipitates. The efficacy of polymers to precipitate Fh at neutral pH was higher for polymers with more carboxyl C (PGA ∼ alginate 〉 xanthan). Pure Fh had a specific surface area of 300 m /g; coprecipitation of Fh with polymers reduced the detectable mineral surface area by up to 87%. Likewise, mineral micro- (〈2 nm) and mesoporosity (2–10 nm) decreased by up to 85% with respect to pure Fh, indicative of a strong aggregation of Fh particles by polymers in freeze-dried state. C-1s STXM images showed the embedding of Fh particles in polymer matrices on the micrometer scale. Iron EXAFS spectroscopy revealed no significant changes in the local coordination of Fe(III) between pure Fh and Fh contained in PGA coprecipitates. Fe Mössbauer spectra of coprecipitates confirmed Fh as dominant mineral phase with a slightly reduced particle size and crystallinity of coprecipitate–Fh compared to pure Fh and/or a limited magnetic super-exchange between Fh particles in the coprecipitates due to magnetic dilution by the polysaccharides. The pH of pure Fh in 0.01 M NaClO was 7.1. In contrast, coprecipitates of PGA and alginate had a pH 〈 2. Considering the differences in specific surface area, porosity, and net charge between the coprecipitates and pure Fh, composites of exopolysaccharides and Fe(III) (hydr)oxides are expected to differ in their geochemical reactivity from pure Fe(III) (hydr)oxides, even if the minerals have a similar crystallinity.
ScienceDirect Journals (Elsevier)
View record in ScienceDirect (Access to full text may be restricted)