Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (Hons.)


Department of Chemistry


Oil shale samples, from different stratigraphie levels in the oil shale deposit at Rundle, Queensland, were retorted by the Fischer Assay method (standard laboratory retort). The shale oils were chemically separated into 13 fractions and analysed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Over 600 compounds were identified, including homologous series of linear alkanes, 2- and 3-methylalkanes, alkylcyclopentanes , al kylcyclohexanes , 1-, 2-, and 3-alkenes, alkylcyclohexenes, alkylcyclopentenes , 2-methy1-3-alkenes, alkylbenzenes, alkylnaphthalenes , 1-phenyl-4-alkenes, nitriles, methyl ketones, amides and carboxylic acids. Substituted benzenes, naphthalenes, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, isoprenoid alkanes/alkenes, phenols, pyridines, quinolines and acridines were also identified. The oils are highly aliphatic in character (H/C = 1.6-1.7) with alkanes (approx. 30%), alkenes (approx. 20%), nitriles (approx. 12%) and methyl ketones (approx. 9%) being the most abundant components. The straight chain alkanes are the predominant compounds followed by the 1-alkenes. The carbon chain length distributions of the alkanes, nitriles and methyl ketones are bimodal indicating origins from both algal and higher-plant sources, with algal sources predominating. The pyrolytic origin of prominent and unusual components is discussed.