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Petroleum Science

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 302–314

First Online: 25 April 2017Received: 19 August 2016DOI: 10.1007-s12182-017-0155-4

Cite this article as: Liang, QY., Xiong, YQ., Zhao, J. et al. Pet. Sci. 2017 14: 302. doi:10.1007-s12182-017-0155-4


Three series of laboratory vaporization experiments were conducted to investigate the carbon isotope fractionation of low molecular weight hydrocarbons LMWHs during their progressive vaporization. In addition to the analysis of a synthetic oil mixture, individual compounds were also studied either as pure single phases or mixed with soil. This allowed influences of mixing effects and diffusion though soil on the fractionation to be elucidated. The LMWHs volatilized in two broad behavior patterns that depended on their molecular weight and boiling point. Vaporization significantly enriched the C present in the remaining components of the C6–C9 fraction, indicating that the vaporization is mainly kinetically controlled; the observed variations could be described with a Rayleigh fractionation model. In contrast, the heavier compounds n-C10–n-C12 showed less mass loss and almost no significant isotopic fractionation during vaporization, indicating that the isotope characteristics remained sufficiently constant for these hydrocarbons to be used to identify the source of an oil sample, e.g., the specific oil field or the origin of a spill. Furthermore, comparative studies suggested that matrix effects should be considered when the carbon isotope ratios of hydrocarbons are applied in the field.

KeywordsLow molecular weight hydrocarbons Gas chromatography–isotope ratio mass spectrometry Isotope fractionation Vaporization Edited by Jie Hao

Autor: Qian-Yong Liang - Yong-Qiang Xiong - Jing Zhao - Chen-Chen Fang - Yun Li


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