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Dismissal of the Claims of a Biological Connection for Natural Petroleum - JF Kenney

Dismissal of the Claims of a Biological Connection for Natural Petroleum - JF Kenney

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Published by zaroia
Dismissal of the Claims of a Biological Connection
for Natural Petroleum. Dr. J.F. Kenney
Oil is not a "fossil fuel" according thermodynamics
Dismissal of the Claims of a Biological Connection
for Natural Petroleum. Dr. J.F. Kenney
Oil is not a "fossil fuel" according thermodynamics

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Published by: zaroia on Aug 18, 2008
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Dismissal of the Claims of a Biological Connectionfor Natural Petroleum.
Joint Institute of The Physics of the Earth - Russian Academy of SciencesGas Resources Corporation, 11811 North Freeway, Houston, TX 77060, U.S.A.
National Academy of Sciences of UkraineVladimirskaya Street 56, 252.601 Kiev, UKRAINE
Institute of Geological SciencesO. Gonchara Street 55-B, 01054 Kiev, UKRAINE
Institute of Geochemistry - Russian Academy of SciencesFavorskii Street 1a, 664.033 Irkutsk, RUSSIA
Russian State University of Oil and GasLeninskii Prospect 65, 117.917 Moscow, RUSSIA
National Petroleum Company of Tatarstan (TatNeft S.A.)Butlerov Street 45-54, 423.020 Kazan, Tatarstan, RUSSIA1. Introduction.
With recognition that the laws of thermodynamics prohibit spontaneous evolution of liq-uid hydrocarbons in the regime of temperature and pressure characteristic of the crust of theEarth, one should not expect there to exist legitimate scientific evidence that might suggest thatsuch could occur. Indeed, and correctly, there exists no such evidence. Nonetheless, and surprisingly, there continue to be often promulgated diverse claims purporting to constitute “evidence” that natural petroleum somehow evolves (miraculously)from biological matter. In this short article, such claims are briefly subjected to scientific scru-tiny, demonstrated to be without merit, and dismissed.The claims which purport to argue for some connection between natural petroleum and biological matter fall into roughly two classes: the “look-like/come-from” claims; and the“similar(recondite)-properties/come-from” claims.The “look-like/come-from” claims apply a line of unreason exactly as designated: Suchargue that, because certain molecules found in natural petroleum “look like” certain other 
molecules found in biological systems, then the former must “come-from” the latter. Such no-tion is, of course, equivalent to asserting that elephant tusks evolve because those animals musteat piano keys.In some instances, the “look-like/come-from” claims assert that certain molecules foundin natural petroleum actually
biological molecules, and evolve only in biological systems.These molecules have often been given the spurious name “biomarkers.”The scientific correction must be stated unequivocally: There have
been observedany specifically biological molecules in natural petroleum, except as contaminants. Petroleumis an excellent solvent for carbon compounds; and, in the sedimentary strata from which petro-leum is often produced, natural petroleum takes into solution much carbon material, including biological detritus. However, such contaminants are unrelated to the petroleum solvent.The claims about “biomarkers” have been thoroughly discredited by observations of those molecules in the interiors of ancient, abiotic meteorites, and also in many cases by labora-tory synthesis under imposed conditions mimicking the natural environment. In the discussion below, the claims put forth about porphyrin and isoprenoid molecules are addressed particu-larly, because many “look-like/come-from” claims have been put forth for those compounds.The “similar(recondite)-properties/come-from” claims involve diverse, odd phenomenawith which persons not working directly in a scientific profession would be unfamiliar. Theseinclude the “odd-even abundance imbalance” claims, the “carbon isotope” claims, and the “op-tical-activity” claims. The first, the “odd-even abundance imbalance” claims, are demonstratedto be utterly unrelated to any biological property. The second, “carbon isotope” claims, areshown to depend upon measurement of an obscure property of carbon fluids which cannot re-liably be considered a measure of origin. The third, the “optical-activity” claims, deserve par-ticular note; for the observations of optical activity in natural petroleum have been trumpetedloudly for years as a “proof” of some “biological origin” of petroleum. Those claims have beenthoroughly discredited decades ago by observation of optical activity in the petroleum materialextracted from the interiors of carbonaceous meteorites. More significantly, recent analysis,which has resolved the previously-outstanding problem of the genesis of optical activity inabiotic fluids, has established that the phenomenon of optical activity is an inevitable thermo-dynamic consequence of the phase stability of multicomponent fluids at high pressures.Thereby, the observation of optical activity in natural petroleum is entirely consistent with theresults of the thermodynamic analysis of the stability of the hydrogen-carbon [H-C] system,which establish that hydrocarbon molecules heavier than methane, and particularly liquid hy-drocarbons, evolve spontaneously only at high pressures, comparable to those necessary for diamond formation.There are two subjects which are particularly relevant for destroying the diverse, spuri-ous claims concerning a putative connection of petroleum and biological matter: the investiga-
tions of the carbon material from carbonaceous meteorites; and the reaction products of theFischer-Tropsch process. Because of their importance, a brief discussion of both is in order.
1.1 The carbonaceous meteorites.
The carbonaceous meteorites, including particularly the carbonaceous chondrites, aremeteorites whose chemical composition includes carbon in quantities ranging from a few tenthsof a percent to approximately six percent, by mass.
The age of the carbonaceous meteoritesis typically 3-4.5 billion years; and their origins clearly abiotic. The mineral structures in theserocks establish that the carbonaceous meteorites have existed at very low temperatures, much below the freezing point of water, effectively since the time of their original formation. Suchthermal history of the carbonaceous meteorites eliminates any probability that there ever ex-isted on them life, or biological matter.
The evidence obtained from scientific investigationsof the carbon material in carbonaceous meteorites has destroyed many claims which assert a biological connection between natural petroleum and biological matter.Significantly, much of the carbon material of the carbonaceous meteorites consists of hydrocarbons, as both solids and in liquid form.
1, 5, 7, 8
However, the petroleum material con-tained in carbonaceous meteorites cannot be considered to be the origin of the natural petro-leum found in the near-surface crust of the Earth. The heating which inevitably accompaniedthe impact process during the accretion of meteorites into the Earth at the time of its formationwould almost certainly have caused decomposition of most of their contained hydrocarbonmolecules. The carbonaceous meteorites provided the Earth with its carbon (albeit much of itdelivered in the form of hydrocarbons) but not its hydrocarbons or natural petroleum. (The processes by which hydrocarbons evolve from the native materials of the Earth are described,and demonstrated, in the following article.)
1.2 The Fischer-Tropsch process.
The Fischer-Tropsch process is the best-known industrial technique for the synthesis of hydrocarbons, and has been used for more than seventy-five years. The Fischer-Tropsch proc-ess reacts carbon monoxide and hydrogen at synthesis conditions of approximately 150 bar and700 K, in the presence of ThO
, MgO, Al
, MnO, clays, and the catalysts Ni, Co, and Fe.The reactions are as follow:When a Ni-Co catalyst is used, the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis proceeds according to the reac-tion:
+   +
 When a Fe catalyst is used, the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis proceeds according to the reaction:
+ +
 The yield of the Fischer-Tropsch process is approximately 200 g of hydrocarbons from 1 m
of CO and H
mixture. During World War II, the production of liquid fuels by the Fischer-Tropsch process was used extensively in Germany; approximately 600,000 t of synthetic gaso-line were synthesized in 1943.

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