Degradation of 5α-cholestane into dimethylperhydrophenanthrenes: An experimental and theoretical study

Mark A. Sugden, Adri C.T. Van Duin, Geoffrey D. Abbott

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3 Scopus citations


A tetradeuteriated cholestane was heated with kerogen isolated from the Messel oil shale at 350°C for 25 different time periods (ranging from 0.5 to 80 h) in borosilicate vessels. Three isomers of tetradeuteriated dimethylperhydrophenanthrene were formed and one of these was the major saturated hydrocarbon product under most conditions. The stereochemistry for these isomers was unknown but if the stable 5α,8β,9α(H), 10β(CH3) sterane configuration is inherited from the cholestane then there are four possible isomers namely: I and II [13β(H) and 13α(H) diastereomers, respectively, of 10,13-dimethylperhydrophenanthrene] as well as III and IV [14β(H) and 14α(H) diastereomers, respectively, of 10,14-dimethylperhydrophenanthrene]. Molecular mechanics revealed that I is the most stable form and therefore is the component that dominated the saturated hydrocarbon degradation products. The identification of only three isomers of deuteriated dimethylperhydrophenanthrene in the pyrolysis experiments is supported by the calculated stabilities (ΔΔG) as isomer IV is considerably more unstable (by 1.7 kcal/mol) than II which is the least stable of I, II and III. If these compounds can be detected in crude oils their distributions may be useful maturity indicators in oils that have been generated at high thermal maturity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1337-1341
Number of pages5
JournalOrganic Geochemistry
Issue number11-12 SPEC. ISS.
StatePublished - Nov 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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