Our kinetic models are based on a combination of pyrolysis methods. Pyrolysis, defined as "a chemical degradation reaction induced by thermal energy alone", lends itself well to two tasks in petroleum geochemistry:
Analytical pyrolysis, conducted at high temperatures and over short heating times in a flowing stream of inert gas, is used to break down kerogen into volatile products. The composition of these products helps identify total gas-forming and total liquid hydrocarbon-forming structures in source rocks. We use pyrolysis gas chromatography to perform this task.
Simulation pyrolysis, conducted at low temperatures and over longer heating times in a closed system is used to gradually break down kerogen into volatile products. The process is considered to mimic natural petroleum formation. There are numerous systems hydrous pyrolysis, gold tube pyrolysis and Microscale Sealed Vessel (MSSV) pyrolysis, for instance. All are essentially similar. None is perfect. We use MSSV pyrolysis because of the high precision it offers at low cost as well as its proven utility for prediction of petroleum compositions in nature.