Effect of the proportion of organic material in bone on thermal decomposition of bone mineral: an investigation of a variety of bones from different species using thermogravimetric analysis coupled to mass spectrometry, high-temperature x-ray diffraction and Fourier transform infra-red spectroscopy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • LD Mkukuma
  • JMS Skakle
  • IR Gibson
  • CT Imrie
  • RM Aspden

Colleges, School and Institutes


Thermogravimetric analysis linked to mass spectrometry (TGA-MS) shows changes in mass and identifies gases evolved when a material is heated. Heating to 600degreesC enabled samples of bone to be classified as having a high (cod clythrum, deer antler, and whale periotic fin bone) or a low (porpoise ear bone, whale tympanic bulla, and whale ear bone) proportion of organic material. At higher temperatures, the mineral phase of the bone decomposed. High temperature X-ray diffraction (HTXRD) showed that the main solids produced by decomposition of mineral (in air or argon at 800degreesC to 1000degreesC) were beta-tricalcium phosphate (TCP) and hydroxyapatite (HAP), in deer antler, and CaO and HAP, in whale tympanic bulla. In carbon dioxide, the decomposition was retarded, indicating that the changes observed in air and argon were a result of the loss of carbonate ions from the mineral. Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy of bones heated to different temperatures, showed that loss of carbon dioxide (as a result of decomposition of carbonate ions) was accompanied by the appearance of hydroxide ions. These results can be explained if the structure of bone mineral is represented by Ca10-x V-x((Ca))[(PO4)(6-x-y)(HPO4)(x)(CO3)(y)] [(OH)(2-x-y)(CO3)(y)V-x((OH))] where V-(Ca) and V-(OH) correspond to vacancies on the calcium and hydroxide sites, respectively, and 2-x-y = 0.4. This general formula is consistent in describing both mature bone mineral (i.e., whale bone), with a high Ca/P molar ratio, lower HPO42- content, and higher CO32- content, and immature bone mineral (i.e., deer antler)., with a low Ca/P ratio, higher HPO42- and lower CO32- content.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-328
Number of pages8
JournalCalcified Tissue International
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2004


  • mineral-organic content, infrared spectroscopy, thermogravimetric analysis, mass spectrometry, X-ray diffraction