Engineering, gives usa precise description of the chemical processinvolved. He argues that fossil fuels form when "the early sedimentarylayers" at the bottom of a basin are deprived of oxygen such that theorganic matter in them did not decay, "as it does in the common settingof kitchen compost." Then, "
bacteria" can "go to work andturn the organic material into the substance
. Kerogen can bethought of as immature oil." The term "anaerobic" refers to a processoccurring in the absence of oxygen. When kerogen is found at depths of between 6,000 and 13,000 feet, and when the temperature and pressureare "right," the kerogen "in the source rock will be cracked into oil. Thiszone is called the oil window. At depths greater than 13,000 ft.temperatures are so high that oil is cracked into gas."Kerogen, it turns out, is not a chemist's term. Kerogen is a loose,geological term (deriving from the ancient Greek word keros, meaningwax) that an industry oil glossary defines as follows:
Kerogen. The naturally occurring, solid, insoluble organicmaterial that occurs in source rocks and can yield oil uponheating.
Webster's Dictionary defines kerogen in a somewhat circular fashion:"bituminous material occurring in shale and yielding oil when heated."Yet, Webster's defines bitumen as "any of various mixtures of hydrocarbons (as tar) often together with their nonmetallic derivativesthat occur naturally or are obtained as residues after heat-refiningnaturally occurring substances (as petroleum)." Kerogen is not a termtypically found in chemistry textbooks or specifically used byprofessional chemists. Use of the term kerogen is generally a signal thatyou are dealing with a petroleum geologist or engineer, not a chemicalscientist.Ker Than, a staff writer for LiveScience.com, providesthe commonsense explanation for how kerogen is supposed to transform into "fossilfuel."
In the leading theory, dead organic material accumulateson the bottom of oceans, riverbeds or swamps, mixing withmud and sand. Over time, more sediment piles on top and the resulting heat and pressure transforms the organic layer into a dark and waxy substance known as kerogen. Left alone, the kerogen molecules eventually crack,breaking into shorter and lighter molecules composed almost solely of carbon and
atoms. Depending onhow liquid or gaseous this mixture is, it will turn into either petroleum or natural gas.
Chemical textbooks typically do not provide chemical formulae forkerogen. What we do find in chemical textbooks are many descriptionsof how hydrocarbons form when carbon and hydrogen atoms bond toeach other by the covalent bonds. So methane is CH4, the first memberof what becomes an alkane series, such that members having two-,three-, and four-carbon atoms are ethane, propane and butane,respectively. We have yet to find a chemistry textbook that refers to"kerogen" or describes any combination of ancient algae, tiny Mesozoic
, or dinosaurs as necessary or sufficient ingredients in theformation of common saturated hydrocarbons such as methane, ethane,propane or butane. Methane is also commonly found on planets such asSaturn (and its moon Titan) where science has never recorded thepresence of living plants or animals.Sometimes chemistry textbooks revert to the common wisdom andprovide a loose verbal description of "natural gas" as having beenformed by "the anaerobic decay of plants and animals" (as we notedbefore, "anaerobic" refers to a process occurring in the absence of oxygen). The textbooks, however, fail to reference any laboratory
where this process has been demonstrated.The transformation from "kerogen" to "fossil fuels" appears to be more aCourt scolds city for'hostility' toward churchSuspects in Turkish attack accuse each otherStreet preacher set tochallenge powers that beGuv's son parties inhistoric landmark State falsely accuses 3,000of child abuseHomeschooling,homesteading mom joinsteamScientists debate cause of feared 'worms-under-skin'diseaseHeathrow passengers leftunchecked Today's WNDCommentary Highlights
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