Scientists create non-organic hydrocarbons – could they also be formed in the sky?

“The oil and gas that fuels our homes and cars (supposedly) started out as living organisms that died, were compressed, and heated under heavy layers of sediments in the Earth’s crust,” said this article on Physorg. “Scientists have debated for years whether some of these hydrocarbons could also have been created deeper in the Earth and formed without organic matter.”

The answer appears to be yes.

29 Jul 09 – “Now for the first time, scientists have found that ethane and heavier hydrocarbons can be synthesized under the pressure-temperature conditions of the upper mantle – the layer of Earth under the crust
and on top of the core.

The research was published in the July 26 online issue of Nature Geoscience.

“Methane (CH4) is the main constituent of natural gas, while ethane (C2H6) is used as a petrochemical feedstock. Both of these hydrocarbons, and others associated with fuel, are called saturated hydrocarbons because they have simple, single bonds and are saturated with hydrogen.

“Using a diamond anvil cell and a laser heat source, the scientists first subjected methane to pressures exceeding 20 thousand times the atmospheric pressure at sea level and temperatures ranging from 1,300 F° to over 2,240 F°.

“These conditions mimic those found 40 to 95 miles deep inside the Earth. The methane reacted and formed ethane, propane, butane, molecular hydrogen, and graphite. The scientists then subjected ethane to the same conditions and it produced methane. The transformations suggest heavier hydrocarbons could exist deep down. The reversibility implies that the synthesis of saturated hydrocarbons is thermodynamically controlled and does not require organic matter.

Couldn’t similar heat and pressure could create hydrocarbons in the atmosphere?” asks reader Ty Weston.

I certainly think so. And that’s exactly what I say in Magnetic Reversals and Evolutionary Leaps.

The research was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Nuclear Security Agency through the Carnegie/DOE Alliance Center, the National Science Foundation, the W.M. Keck Foundation, and the Carnegie Institution.

See entire article:

Thanks to Ty Weston for this link

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