Hydrous Pyrolysis and Kerogen Conversion

Science Center Objects

This work is directed at understanding the kinetics of vitrinite and solid bitumen maturation through hydrous pyrolysis experiments, potentially enabling a direct methodology to detect ‘vitrinite reflectance suppression,’ a commonly reported problem in the early- to mid-oil window. This task also examines the molecular chemistry of kerogen conversion to petroleum via in situ chemical probing by micro-Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (micro-FTIR) and other chemical probes during thermal maturity advance. These goals are achieved by using natural and artificial maturation sequences of organic-rich shale and mudrock. Results have shown that the kinetics of solid bitumen maturation are slower than vitrinite, potentially explaining the commonly reported ‘vitrinite reflectance suppression’ effect as simple misidentification of solid bitumen as vitrinite. The significance of this work was recognized with bestowment of the 2018 Ralph Gray Award for Best Refereed Paper in Coal and Organic Petrology from The Society of Organic Petrology.


  • Characterize the in situ chemical transformation of kerogen conversionsedimentary organic matter to hydrocarbons petroleum via micro-spectroscopy approaches, i.e., micro-FTIR and micro-Raman, among others