Water Vapor Binding on Organic Matter-Coated Minerals

Abstract : Atmospheric water vapor binding to soils is a key process driving water availability in unsaturated terrestrial environments. Using a representative hydrophilic iron oxyhydroxide, this study highlights key mechanisms through which water vapor (i) adsorbs and (ii) condenses at mineral surfaces coated with Leonardite humic acid (LHA). Microgravimetry and vibrational spectroscopy showed that liquid-like water forms in the three-dimensional array of mineral-bound LHA when present at total C/Fe ratios well exceeding similar to 73 mg C per g Fe (26 C atoms/nm(2)). Below these loadings, minerals become even less hydrophilic than in the absence of LHA. This lowering in hydrophilicity is caused by the complexation of LHA water-binding sites to mineral surfaces, and possibly by conformational changes in LHA structure removing available condensation environments for water. An empirical relationship predicting the dependence of water adsorption densities on LHA loadings was developed from these results. Together with the molecular-level description provided in this work, this relationship should guide efforts in predicting water availability, and thereby occurrences of water-driven geochemical processes in terrestrial environments.
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W. Cheng, K. Hanna, J. -F. Boily. Water Vapor Binding on Organic Matter-Coated Minerals. Environmental Science & Technology, American Chemical Society, 2019, 53 (3), pp.1252-1257. ⟨10.1021/acs.est.8b05134⟩. ⟨hal-02049511⟩

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