Now there are two main hypotheses of the origin of oil: inorganic (abiogenic) and organic (sedimentary-migration). The inorganic theory posits that oil was formed in deep water under high pressure at high temperatures. This is how, for instance, benzene and some alkanes can form.
Oil is made up of many compounds that cannot be produced abiogenously. Biomarker hydrocarbons are one example. They retain the structure of biological molecules. Despite numerous attempts, not one drop of oil has ever been found in organic laboratories.
The main attention in the organic (sedimentary-migration) hypothesis of the formation of petroleum hydrocarbons is paid to the thermal and thermocatalytic processes of transformation of organic matter of eukaryotes: animals, plants and fungi. From the remains of these organisms, a geobiopolymer-kerogen is first formed. This insoluble organic substance is called geobiopolymer. The temperature influences the yield of oil hydrocarbons from different classes at different rates. It is interesting that all oils around the world contain the exact same hydrocarbons. However, their relative contents vary depending on the origin of the kerogen.
Prokaryotes, bacteria and archaea are given less attention when it comes to the formation of petroleum hydrocarbons. They are usually only involved in the first stages of eukaryotic organic material transformation.
Based on the evolution of living organisms, it is reasonable to assume that prokaryotes are primary sources of oil. The processes of oil production from the biomass of prokaryotic organisms’ residues will continue into the future, it is probable. Due to the prokaryotic organisms’ high reproductive rate and wide distribution, large amounts of organic matter can accumulate. This could be a source for hydrocarbons. This issue is however, largely unexplored.
Oil reserves are currently considered exhausted. It was fascinating to discover why remains of plants, animals, and fungi could be used as a source material for oil. However, no one has ever considered bacteria or archaea as such. Also, it was possible to model the formation and use of petroleum hydrocarbons from biomass of prokaryotic organisms.
We increased the prokaryotic biomass to do this. Next, we used a centrifuge to separate the prokaryotic biomass from the nutrient media. We then lyophilized* the result and were able to conduct our experiments. The biomass is now a powder after lyophilic drying. Our studies revealed that this “powder”, as we call it, is composed of both a soluble (soluble) and insoluble portion. We performed extraction to isolate the soluble portion of the biomass. After we had separated the soluble portion, we looked at the insoluble biomass. We assumed that it was part of our kerogen.
* Lyophilization: The dried preparation is placed in a vacuum chamber and frozen. Sublimation of solvent takes place.
It was proven that petroleum hydrocarbons can be made from kerogen through mild thermal decomposition (thermolysis). The insoluble portion of bacterial biomass was subject to similar transformations. We sealed the ampoule and heated it at 330° for five to six hour.
Prokaryotic biomass is responsible for a substantial contribution to oil production, in addition to eukaryotes. The soluble and products of thermolysis, thermocatalytic transformations and thermocatalytic conversions of the insoluble biomass of bacteria, and archaea both produce all the hydrocarbons that are found in oils, namely n-alkanes and isoprenanes. Also, the products and products of thermocatalysis, diamond-like structure hydrocarbons, adamantanes or diamantanes. This shows that petroleum hydrocarbons are still being formed.
This experiment is theoretically significant in terms of the source of oil, and practical significance – for the search of deposits and the renewal oil reserves.