Fractionation and spectroscopic properties of fulvic acid and its extract

X Ma, University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Sarah A. Green, Michigan Technological University

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Novel results were obtained when a fulvic acid was isolated from Acros humic acid and fractionated by traditional preparative thin-layer chromatography. Eight colorful bands were directly viewed and analyzed showing very different fluorescence and absorption properties. The fluorescence quantum yield of the bands ranged from 2% to 9.4%, significantly higher than that of natural humic substances. An aqueous fulvic acid solution was also extracted with methylene chloride (CH(2)Cl(2)) by continuous liquid-liquid extraction. The CH(2)Cl(2) extract was further fractionated by thin-layer chromatography. Eleven highly fluorescent colorful bands and six weakly fluorescent bands were observed and examined. UV-vis absorption and fluorescence (including 3D matrix) spectra and fluorescence quantum yields revealed that each band still represented a mixture of compounds. Moreover, substantial differences in optical properties were observed among bands. A single band possessed the highest fluorescence quantum yield (6%) and highest specific fluorescence (fluorescence/mass), and accounted for 21% of the total fluorescence of the extract. The mass of individual bands varied from 1.6% to 14.1% of the total materials recovered. Components of all fractions were grouped into 11 fluorophore families according to their maxima on 3D matrix fluorescence spectra. No component is dominant in the whole fulvic acid or extracted portion in terms of optical properties. Over 40 natural products are proposed for model chromophores.