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Deep biosphere research points to new methods for recovering petroleum
Date:10/8/2008

of expertise from thermodynamic modeling, reaction mechanisms, and organic characterization, to clay minerals and high-temperature/pressure experiments. Many different techniques and backgrounds are necessary to understand the complexities of the process.

"Some of the known organic reactions under hydrothermal conditions are fascinating to me as an organic chemist. But this is a not a research field that I can enter in my own, I don't know how to do the experiments and I don't know which are the important observations," says chemistry professor Ian Gould, "but I can bring expertise in the area of choosing useful and informative reactions to study."

"No one person is an expert in all aspects of the project. As a team, we all think about the same questions, but we each bring a different set of skills and ideas to the forum. That often means we can find answers more quickly, or find answers that come from a direction any one of us by ourselves might have overlooked," says Hartnett.

"What we're learning may be applied to hydrocarbon exploration, carbon dioxide sequestration, environmental reclamation, and microbial sustainability," says team member Lynda Williams, an associate research professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration who focuses on the chemical composition of clay and sedimentary minerals. "It could also lead toward understanding primordial conditions on Earth and similar planets where carbon-based life has evolved," she adds.

This interdisciplinary approach to exploring organic reactions in hot water may also have important implications for "green" chemistry. By learning more about how to promote organic reactions in hot water, other researchers may be able to take that knowledge and develop new chemical processes that don't have to use environmentally unfriendly, toxic solvents.

Funded through NSF's Emerging Topics in Biogeochemical Cycles program, Shock and his team will be the first to link or
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Contact: Nikki Staab
nstaab@asu.edu
480-727-9329
Arizona State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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