Motor Fuels from Oil Shale — Production and Properties

  • J. H. Gary


The oil shales of Colorado, Wyoming and Utah are not shales and do not contain any liquid oil. The base material is a marlstone, very similar to limestone, which is dense and non-porous. The organic material is a solid called kerogen which does not melt and has very limited solubility in such organic solvents as benzene, acetone and ether. It is necessary to heat the kerogen to temperatures near 900°F to cause the kerogen to decompose and give a liquid shale oil, gases and carbon as products.

The organic content of the Western shales is about 14 percent by weight and, upon pyrolysis, yields from 25 to 40 gallons of oil per ton of rock. There are two general methods for converting the solid kerogen to shale oil; one is by mining and retorting the shale above ground and the other is by establishing communications (introducing porosity) in the shale and retorting the shale underground or in situ.

The raw shale oil produced from the retorting is high in unsaturated hydrocarbons, nitrogen and sulfur. In order to produce satisfactory motor fuels more intensive and expensive processing is required than to produce motor fuels from conventional crude oils.

Background will be presented on shale and shale oil properties, retorting and refining methods and properties of finished motor fuels.


Distillation Tower Pour Point Motor Fuel Catalytic Hydrotreating Spend Shale 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. H. Gary
    • 1
  1. 1.Colorado School of MinesGoldenUSA

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