Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Extraction of hydrocarbons from high-maturity Marcellus Shale using supercritical carbon dioxide

November 2, 2015

Shale is now commonly exploited as a hydrocarbon resource. Due to the high degree of geochemical and petrophysical heterogeneity both between shale reservoirs and within a single reservoir, there is a growing need to find more efficient methods of extracting petroleum compounds (crude oil, natural gas, bitumen) from potential source rocks. In this study, supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2) was used to extract n-aliphatic hydrocarbons from ground samples of Marcellus shale. Samples were collected from vertically drilled wells in central and western Pennsylvania, USA, with total organic carbon (TOC) content ranging from 1.5 to 6.2 wt %. Extraction temperature and pressure conditions (80°C and 21.7 MPa, respectively) were chosen to represent approximate in situ reservoir conditions at sample depth (1920–2280 m). Hydrocarbon yield was evaluated as a function of sample matrix particle size (sieve size) over the following size ranges: 1000–500 μm, 250–125 μm, and 63–25 μm. Several methods of shale characterization including Rock-Eval II pyrolysis, organic petrography, Brunauer–Emmett–Teller surface area, and X-ray diffraction analyses were also performed to better understand potential controls on extraction yields. Despite high sample thermal maturity, results show that supercritical CO2 can liberate diesel-range (n-C11 through n-C21) n-aliphatic hydrocarbons. The total quantity of extracted, resolvable n-aliphatic hydrocarbons ranges from approximately 0.3 to 12 mg of hydrocarbon per gram of TOC. Sieve size does have an effect on extraction yield, with highest recovery from the 250–125 μm size fraction. However, the significance of this effect is limited, likely due to the low size ranges of the extracted shale particles. Additional trends in hydrocarbon yield are observed among all samples, regardless of sieve size: 1) yield increases as a function of specific surface area (r2 = 0.78); and 2) both yield and surface area increase with increasing TOC content (r2 = 0.97 and 0.86, respectively). Given that supercritical CO2 is able to mobilize residual organic matter present in overmature shales, this study contributes to a better understanding of the extent and potential factors affecting the extraction process.

Publication Year 2015
Title Extraction of hydrocarbons from high-maturity Marcellus Shale using supercritical carbon dioxide
DOI 10.1021/acs.energyfuels.5b02059
Authors Palma J. Botterell, Philip A. Candela, Wenlu Zhu, Alan J. Kaufman
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Energy & Fuels
Index ID 70160328
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Eastern Energy Resources Science Center