Arabian Journal of Geosciences

, 11:542 | Cite as

Factors influencing hydrogen yield in water radiolysis and implications for hydrocarbon generation: a review

  • Wenqing Wang
  • Chiyang LiuEmail author
  • Wenhui Liu
  • Dongdong Zhang
Review Paper


Hydrocarbon generation is a process of adding H and removing S, N, and other heteroatoms. Traditional theories of hydrocarbon generation and the evaluation of oil and gas reservoirs both neglect consideration of the influence of exogenous H2. To probe the possibility that exogenous H2 from water radiolysis influences hydrocarbon generation by source rocks, data from water radiolysis experiments are collected, and factors affecting H2 yield are summarized. The results indicate that the hydrogen yield of heavy ion (e.g., 4He ion) radiolysis is higher than that of proton radiolysis, while electron radiolysis and γ rays have the lowest H2 yields. The addition of solids, smaller pore size, larger specific surface area, neutral, and reductive environments and several short reduplicative irradiation steps favor increasing H2 yield. In the source rocks of the Chang 7 member in the Ordos Basin, the high content of uranium provided a large amount of radiant energy to the formation water during hydrocarbon generation. Given the abundant clay minerals, small pore size, and reducing environment of the source rocks, there is a significant possibility that the abundant uranium in the Chang 7 member radiated formation water producing H2 which is a promising source of exogenous H2 for hydrocarbon generation.


Water radiolysis Hydrogen yield Exogenous H2 Hydrocarbon generation Uranium-rich source rocks Ordos Basin 



We thank Prof. X.P. Ouyang for helpful suggestions and Dr. F. Chupin for technical assistance.

Funding information

This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China under grant numbers 41330315 and 41402093.


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Copyright information

© Saudi Society for Geosciences 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wenqing Wang
    • 1
  • Chiyang Liu
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Wenhui Liu
    • 1
  • Dongdong Zhang
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Continental Dynamics, Department of GeologyNorthwest UniversityXi’anChina
  2. 2.Northwest UniversityXi’anChina

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