Resolving the ‘Hump’

Paul A. Sutton, Steven J. Rowland and C. Anthony Lewis

Petroleum and Organic Geochemistry Group, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Plymouth, Drake Circus, Plymouth, Devon PL4 8AA, U.K.

Presented at: International Symposium of Column Chromatography, Riva del Garda, Italy, 13th-17th May 2002.

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Brief Summary

Some individual hydrocarbons have been resolved from the unresolved complex mixture (UCM) of hydrocarbons of a biodegraded crude oil following preparative open column chromatography, preparative HPLC and preparative GC on two stationary phases. One of these compounds from the UCM was identified by electron impact ionisation GC-MS as a novel C26 17-desmethyl triaromatic steroid (ca 4 mg g-1 whole oil). If this concentration is typical of the proportion of UCM represented by such compounds a very approximate estimate suggests that the whole oil studied contains maybe 250,000 compounds, indicating that oil UCMs are amongst the most complex mixtures of organic compounds on Earth. The above approach can lead to the identification of novel compounds which may have considerable geochemical, petrochemical and environmental significance, and will be applied to further UCM hydrocarbon fractions.

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