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Structural Properties of Kerogens with Different Maturities



Wei-Shan Chiang, Jin-hong Chen, David Jacobi, Taner N. Yildirim


The thermogenic transformation of kerogen into hydrocarbons accompanies the development of a pore network within the kerogen that serves as gas storage locations both in pore space and surface area for adsorbed gas within the source rock. Therefore, the successful recovery of gas from these rocks depends on the accessible surface area, surface properties, and interconnectivity of the pore system. These parameters can be difficult to determine because of the nanoscale of the structures within the rock. This study seeks to investigate the pore structure, surface heterogeneity, and composition of recovered kerogens isolated from source rocks with progressively increasing thermogenic maturities. Prompt gamma-ray activation analysis (PGAA), nitrogen and methane volumetric gas sorption, and small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) are combined to explore the relationship between the chemical composition, pore structure, surface roughness, surface heterogeneity, and maturity. PGAA results indicate that higher mature kerogens have lower hydrogen/carbon ratio. Nitrogen gas adsorption indicates that the pore volume and accessible specific surface area are higher for more mature kerogens. The methane isosteric heat at different methane uptake in the kerogens is determined by methane isotherms and shows that approximately two types of binding sites are present in low mature kerogens while the binding sites are relatively homogeneous in the most mature kerogen. The hysteresis effect of the structure during the adsorption and desorption process at different CD4 gas pressures are studied. An extended generalized Porod's scattering law method (GPSLM) is further developed here to analyze kerogens with fractal surfaces. This extended GPSLM quantifies the surface heterogeneity of the kerogens with a fractal surface and shows that kerogen with high maturity is chemically more homogeneous, consistent with the results from methane isosteric heat. SANS analysis also suggests a pronounced surface roughness in the more mature kerogens. A microporous region circling around the nanopores, which contributes to high surface roughness and methane storage, is shown to develop with maturity.
Energy & Fuels


shale, small angle neutron scattering, kerogen, rock, methane, gas


Chiang, W. , Chen, J. , Jacobi, D. and Yildirim, T. (2020), Structural Properties of Kerogens with Different Maturities, Energy & Fuels (Accessed January 16, 2022)
Created October 14, 2020, Updated September 17, 2021