Stability of Pyruvic Acid Adsorbed Onto Clays and Exposed to Ionizing Radiation: Relevance in Chemical Evolution
Chemical evolution studies focus on the synthesis and stability of organic molecules during various transformative physicochemical processes. Gaining insight into the possible mechanisms behind these processes requires the use of various energy sources and catalysts that can produce such transformations. In this work, ionizing radiation (60Co) was used as a source of energy, and two clays with different exchangeable cations-sodium and iron (III)-were combined with pyruvic acid, a key alpha keto acid in metabolism. The samples of pyruvic acid were prepared at a concentration of 0.01 M; then, adsorption experiments were carried out by combining sodium or iron montmorillonite at different times. The amount that adsorbed onto iron montmorillonite was greater than the amount that adsorbed onto sodium montmorillonite. Samples of alpha keto acid at the same concentration were irradiated-in the absence of clay-at 0 to 146.1 kGy and at two pHs (6.7 and 2.0). The suspended samples with sodium and iron clay were then irradiated at the same doses. The results show that keto acid decomposes more quickly at more acidic pHs. The main reaction to irradiation without clay involves the dimerization of pyruvic acid, and 2,3-dimethyltartaric acid is the majority product. When irradiated in the presence of clay, the main reaction is decarboxylation, and acetic acid is the majority product. The exchangeable cation type modifies the interactions between the organic molecule and the solid phase. The percentage of recovered pyruvic acid is higher for iron montmorillonite than for sodium montmorillonite.
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