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Spectrochim Acta A Mol Biomol Spectrosc. 2012 Apr;89:105-13. doi: 10.1016/j.saa.2011.10.078. Epub 2011 Dec 13.

An in situ FTIR step-scan photoacoustic investigation of kerogen and minerals in oil shale.

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Department of Civil Engineering, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND 58105, United States.


Step-scan photoacoustic infrared spectroscopy experiments were performed on Green River oil shale samples obtained from the Piceance Basin located in Colorado, USA. We have investigated the molecular nature of light and dark colored areas of the oil shale core using FTIR photoacoustic step-scan spectroscopy. This technique provided us with the means to analyze the oil shale in its original in situ form with the kerogen-mineral interactions intact. All vibrational bands characteristic of kerogen were found in the dark and light colored oil shale samples confirming that kerogen is present throughout the depth of the core. Depth profiling experiments indicated that there are changes between layers in the oil shale molecular structure at a length scale of micron. Comparisons of spectra from the light and dark colored oil shale core samples suggest that the light colored regions have high kerogen content, with spectra similar to that from isolated kerogen, whereas, the dark colored areas contain more mineral components which include clay minerals, dolomite, calcite, and pyrite. The mineral components of the oil shale are important in understanding how the kerogen is "trapped" in the oil shale. Comparing in situ kerogen spectra with spectra from isolated kerogen indicate significant band shifts suggesting important nonbonded molecular interactions between the kerogen and minerals.

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