Hydrous pyrolysis of model compounds

J. W. Smith*, B. D. Batts, T. D. Gilbert

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    42 Citations (Scopus)


    In pursuit of a method for the determination of the total n-alkyl content of petroleum source rocks, the reactions of model organic compounds containing a long-chain n-alkyl constituent with water have been studied in sealed tubes. At 330°C, the n-alkyl component of n-alcohols and n-ethers and the n-alcohololic components of esters are largely converted to, and release as, the corresponding n-alkanes. Some fragmentation of carbon chains accompanies this reaction. The conversion of n-alkanoic acids to n-alkanes is only partial, even at 350°C, and n-alkyl aromatics and n-alkyl hydroaromatics remain virtually unaffected under these conditions. Where significant n-alkane generation from model compounds is observed, additions of brown coal generally promote this process. In view of the stability of n-alkanoic acids and n-alkylated hydrocarbons observed under the conditions of hydrous pyrolysis used in this study, this technique is not entirely suitable for determining the total n-alkyl content of all source rocks nor, presumably, their full petroleum potential.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)365-373
    Number of pages9
    JournalOrganic Geochemistry
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1989


    • hydrous pyrolysis
    • model compounds
    • petroleum potential
    • thermal stability


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