Fractionation and characterization of extracts of peat and peat-forming plants

Erkki Ekman

Research output: Book/ReportReport


Peat contains substances, especially waxy ones that are technically usable and soluble into organic solvents.The objective of the present investigation was to study their origin and reasons for fairly significant differences in their amounts between separate peat de posits and peat samples. Special attention was paid to a possible causal connection between the substances soluble in organic solvents in peat and in peat-forming plants.The extraction was carried out with a benzene-ethanol solution.Benzene was sepa rated from the extract by distilling and waxy components were crystallized from the residual ethanol solution.The composition of the waxy components was studied chromatographically by di viding them first into three fractions in a silica gel column.Carbon disulphide, chloroform-ethanol and chloroform-formic acid solutions were used as eluants.The composition of the fractions was determined gas-chromatographically.Average quantities of peat-forming plant species soluble in benzene-ethanol varied from 2.1 to 13.0 % and that of waxy components from 0.1 to 4.7 % in dry matter.The lowest extract and wax contents were obtained for moss and sedge species, while the highest values were measured for dwarf-shrubs and especially for their leaves.The highest values were obtained for the leaves of Empetrum nigrum, for which the proportion of benzene-ethanol extract was 18.3 % and that of waxy components 9.0 % in dry matter.The structure of waxy components of peat and peat-forming plant material proved to be similar in many respects.Even carbon chains from Cl 6 to C32 were dominant in car boxylic acids and from C~4 to C30 in alcohols, and odd charbon chains from Cl9 to C33 in hydrocarbon groups.This similarity refers to botanical origin of peat waxes.Hence, one reason for quantitative variations in waxy and resinous components of peat can be due to the flora in the era of peat formation.In addition to main plant species forming peat, especially dwarf-shrubs have probably been a significant producer of these components, as these shrubs and especially those yearly loosing their leaves contain an abundance of waxy and resinous components.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationEspoo
PublisherVTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)951-38-1261-8
Publication statusPublished - 1981
MoE publication typeNot Eligible

Publication series

SeriesTechnical Research Centre of Finland. Publications


Dive into the research topics of 'Fractionation and characterization of extracts of peat and peat-forming plants'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this