School of Science, Engineering and Information Technology

Development of an acid-soluble humic acid product

Project Title:

Development of an acid-soluble humic acid product

Supervisor(s):

Assoc. Professor Vince Verheyen

Contact person and email address:

vince.verheyen@federation.edu.au

A brief description of the project:

By definition, humic acids are soluble in aqueous solutions at high pH and insoluble at low pH. However, most agricultural products are acidic and, for this reason, humic acids are difficult to incorporate into existing fertilizer products. This project will investigate the colloidal and precipitation behavior of K-humate product and other humic acids to determine if their chemically modified forms are stabile in an aqueous solution at low pH. The project would examine chemical derivatisation and controlled oxidation approaches as a means of increasing their acid solubility.

Available resources

  • SEM with gold and carbon coating equipment
  • Size exclusion chromatography
  • Lab scale reactors
  • CCS lab wide range of analytical support
  • Potential industrial impact: Increased opportunities for application of humic acids in existing agricultural markets
    Potential industry partners: Strong industrial interest from Omnia
    Technology Readiness Level 1. Humic acids are an established export industry but formulation of humic acids at low pH has not been demonstrated.

Collaboration opportunities

  • Organic geochemistry in concert with (Impact Ecology group) e.g. Jess’s heavy metals work. We can look for biomarkers (such as sterols as indicators for fungi vs plant vs animal inputs) and anthropogenic markers.
  • UNITEN - Malaysian university that visited recently – high value (or higher value) products from palm oil industry wastes.
  • CO2CRC - Optimising biological production of C2 and C4 platform chemicals (acetate and succinate) from local biomass.
  • Developing biological process to prepare solid or semi-solid feedstocks for anaerobic digestion
  • Developing a biomass and coal quality measurement system using spectroscopy and image processing.
  • GHERG – soil carbon (comparing bushfire vs no-bushfire???? Biochar analogue????) Soil carbon sequestration. Soil organic carbon
  • SOILS CRC Support for long-term (5 year plus) field trials to demonstrate the effectiveness of brown coal for building soil organic carbon and stimulating crop productivity. Including the Latrobe Valley and Gippsland communities.