Researchers are reproducing the inorganic synthesis of a hydrocarbon

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And if the oil had no single origin for a slow transformation of organic matter but also inorganic process? This important question for human management of energy resources may soon be answered thanks to the work of a team led by Henry Scott of Indiana University. In the Laboratory of Geophysics of the Carnegie Institution (Washington, DC), the researchers were able to reconstruct the conditions that generate methane in Earth from inorganic elements.

For this, they placed water, iron oxide (FeO) and calcite (CaCO3) in a diamond anvil cell, a device study materials at very high pressures. They found that at pressures equivalent to those prevailing 20 000 few meters below the earth's surface and ideal temperature 500 ° C, water the hydrogen atoms combine with the carbon atoms to form calcite methane. The scientists now plan to test the production of more complex hydrocarbons (ethane and butane) at even higher pressures.

Source: NYT 14 / 09 / 04 (From Decay Petroleum? Maybe Not, Study Says)

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