Identifying natural chemicals in petroleum hydrocarbons analysis – Remtech 2018

RemTech 2018

The Chemistry Matters team, is excited to present at the 2018 Remediation Technology Symposium (RemTech) hosted by the Environmental Services Association of Alberta (ESSA).  Dr. Richards will present Identifying natural chemicals in petroleum hydrocarbons analysis.

Identifying natural chemicals in petroleum hydrocarbons analysis

Phil Richards1 and Court D Sandau1

1 Chemistry Matters Inc., Calgary, AB,


Environmental investigations can be complicated by naturally occurring chemicals. This presentation will discuss the chemical analyses that are often confounded by naturally occurring chemicals and how to interpret chemical data to focus on the data relating to petroleum spills. Case studies from work undertaken by CMI will be used to illustrate the focus points.

Petroleum Hydrocarbon (PHC) Fractions analysis does not effectively distinguish biogenic chemicals from petrogenic chemicals. The reliance on the results for decisions relating to spill site investigation and remediation purposes means that additional chemistry knowledge must be applied to determine the delineation of impacts and remedial options. Different methods of demonstrating the presence of natural chemicals in the results or even semi-quantitatively apportioning biogenic and petrogenic hydrocarbons are presented in the literature, including the use of biomarkers and state-of-the-art two-dimensional chromatography. Examples showing how impacts can be distinguished from natural chemicals will be presented and discussed.

Toluene forms naturally in the wetlands of Alberta. CMI recently published a peer-reviewed paper describing how to effectively differentiate biogenic toluene from petrogenic toluene. This presentation will demonstrate how to differentiate and delineate toluene relating to an impact from natural toluene.

Environmental professionals involved in spill remediation or site monitoring will find this presentation applicable.