An oil shale is a sedimentary rock, which has high content of organic components, used to extract fuels. It belongs to the group of sapropel fuels. Although it is found throughout the world, there is no fixed chemical formula or for that matter, even a geological definition. However, contrary to its name, oil shale doesn’t have any oil, nor is it shale.
As one moves from place to place, one will find variation in the composition, kerogen, organic content, and age of the oil shale.
However, when this element is compared to coal, the latter has more organic value than oil shale. The content of organic matter in shale is usually between 0.75:5 and 1.5:5. Also, the ratio of hydrogen and carbon in an oil shale is lower than that found in crude oil and higher than that of coal. The organic compounds that are found in an oil shale is formed by the remains of various organic components like algae, plants, pollens, animals, spores, cuticles, etc. The plants that are mainly found in an oil shale are a mix of aquatic plants, woody plants, and other land plants. Some shales also have high content of fossils.
The process of extracting oil from the rock has been improved over the past few years, and more emphasis has been placed on environmental preservation. The oil shale reserves are first found, and the organic rocks are extracted through the means of mining.
Various companies are involved in the process of extracting fuels from this sedimentary rock. If it is processed efficiently, such rocks found world-wide can produce as much as 3 trillion barrels of oil. The crude oil reserves have started to disappear. At such a time, oil shale is one of the best alternatives, in fact the only alternative, humans can use to produce oil.
In order to extract fuel from the rock, it is first heated. This process gives out vapor, which is distilled. It forms various hydrocarbon chains. In early days, these rocks were actually used as fuel, as the rock can be burnt due to inbuilt kerogens.
After extracting oil from the rocks, the extracted rocks are placed back in its place to avoid erosion and pollution in the nearby area.
Although there are many reserves of oil shale in the world today, there has been a tremendous increase in the mining of such reserves lately. This process is likely to continue for a very long time, which will create an acute shortage of organic fuels. Oil Shale is an organic sedimentary rock, which high content of organic compounds. This can be used to extract fuel, and is an excellent alternative to crude oil mining.