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Projects & Research


Research Portfolio

The research conducted at the Institute of Geology and Geochemistry of Petroleum and Coal is primarily based on three analytical pillars: Petrophysics ; Organic Petrology/ Coal Petrology and Organic Geochemistry; and Numerical Simulations of Sediment Basins (Profile LEK).

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Petrophysics / Applied Physical Chemistry

This research department deals with the physical and chemical aspects of the formation and migration of fluids, liquids and gases in sedimentary basins. Questions concerning fluid transport in low permeable rocks and coals are investigated with experiments. Another focus of our research is in the field of thermal and microbial natural gas formation.

Our experimental equipment includes:

 High pressure discharge cells and mechanical compression to measure

  • Permeability coefficients
  • Gas diffusion coefficients
  • Capillary sealing efficiency (Gas breakthrough experiments)
  • Mechanical properties of rocks

 High pressure adsorption apparatus for

  • Individual gas adsorption on coals
  • Mixed gas adsorption on coals
  • High temperature pyrolysis to investigate thermal gas formation from sedimentary rocks

To conduct our experiments, the laboratory is equipped with analytical machines (gas chromatography, Rock-Eval Analyser), analysers and controllers, and laboratory computers. A mercury porosimeter and a machine to test specific surface areas (BET method) are available to petrophysically characterize rocks and coals.

Organic Petrology / Coal Petrology

In area of Organic Petrology / Coal Petrology, experiments on carried out on microscopically small organic particles to determine thermal maturity (vitrinite reflectance, spectral fluorescence).

These experiments serve to determine the temperature history of sedimentary rocks and of special importance, the source rocks for petroleum and natural gas. Moreover, the type of organic material is ascertained for facies/paleoenvironment studies.

Additionally, anisotropy and reflectivity of coaly particles and coke are examined. For this work step, we have 5 research-grade microscopes as well as many student microscopes.

Organic Geochemistry

The department Organic Geochemistry deals with environmental geochemical questions as well as organic-chemical analysis of oils, coals and organically rich rocks. Environmental geochemical investigations are concerned with anthropogenic pollution in groundwater and surface waters and their respective sediments.

To answer these questions, the primary assignment is to describe the organic contaminates in their occurrence, distribution and transformation/degradation. Experiments on fossilized materials also deal with the molecular aspects of the composition of the organic material. The goal of these investigations is to determine the depositional history and environment as well as the quality and fate of the organic material from its chemical signature.

Both of these sub-fields are connected by their common analytical method, such as structure determination through GC-MS and isotopic analysis of single bonds through GC-irmMS.

Numerical Simulation

Studies involving the numerical simulation of sediment basins serve to investigate petroleum and natural gas systems. These studies are usually done in cooperation with domestic- and foreign-based exploration and production companies. Additionally, these techniques are used to determine the thermal history and hydrocarbon formation in organically deformed areas. The input data for these simulations include a multitude of geologic, geochemical and geophysical data, which leads to a quantitative understanding of all relevant processes within the basin. For these simulations, we have the latest computers available as well as the software program PetroMod for 1D, 2D and 3D modelling.


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