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School of Engineering, Information Technology and Physical Sciences

Structural and functional comparison of coal- and soil-derived humic acids

Project Title:

Structural and functional comparison of coal- and soil-derived humic acids


Assoc. Professor Vince Verheyen and Dr. Alicia Reynolds

Contact person and email address:

A brief description of the project:

Humic compounds are marketed as biostimulants but this is difficult to unequivocally demonstrate. Nevertheless, there is an established large and valuable humic acid export industry. In this project, the chemical structure and beneficial properties of humic acids extracted (or derived) from coal and soils are compared. Sources of humic acids will include commercially available humic acids, commercial potting mixes, broad-acre agriculture soils, market garden soils and national parks. Besides detailed structural characterization, a test would be developed/applied which would enable the rapid in evaluation of their bio stimulatory properties.

Available resources

  • Gas and liquid chromatography including GC-MS and qTOF
  • Size exclusion chromatography
  • ATR-IR
  • Extensive experience in selective oxidation for characterization of macromolecules
  • NMR time may be arranged if it is expected to be of value

Potential industrial impact: development of effective humic acids for agricultural use and improved understanding of the potential for soil carbon sequestration
Potential industry partners: Omnia