Skip to main content

Direct Measure of the Dense Methane Phase in Gas Shale Organic Porosity by Neutron Scattering

Publication Type
Journal Name
Energy & Fuels
Publication Date

Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing are expected to at least double natural gas extraction from tight shale by 2040. Neutron scattering showed shale rich in organic matter and characterized by small pores held twice the methane of shale with greater inorganic content and larger pores. (Image credit: Andy Sproles, Gernot Rother/ORNL)We report the first direct measurements of methane density in shale gas using small-angle neutron scattering. At a constant pressure, the density of methane in the inorganic pores is similar to the gas bulk density of the system conditions. In contrast, the methane density is 2.1 ± 0.2 times greater in the organic mesopores. Classical density functional theory calculations show that this excess density in the organic pores persists to elevated temperatures, typical of shale gas reservoir conditions, providing new insight into the hydrocarbon storage mechanisms within these reservoirs.