Time-resolved fluorescence microspectroscopy for characterizing crude oils in bulk and hydrocarbon-bearing fluid inclusions

Appl Spectrosc. 2004 Sep;58(9):1106-15. doi: 10.1366/0003702041959505.


Time-resolved fluorescence data was collected from a series of 23 bulk crude petroleum oils and six microscopic hydrocarbon-bearing fluid inclusions (HCFI). The data was collected using a diode laser fluorescence lifetime microscope (DLFLM) over the 460-700 nm spectral range using a 405 nm excitation source. The correlation between intensity averaged lifetimes (tau) and chemical and physical parameters was examined with a view to developing a quantitative model for predicting the gross chemical composition of hydrocarbon liquids trapped in HCFI. It was found that tau is nonlinearly correlated with the measured polar and corrected alkane concentrations and that oils can be classified on this basis. However, these correlations all show a large degree of scatter, preventing accurate quantitative prediction of gross chemical composition of the oils. Other parameters such as API gravity and asphaltene, aromatic, and sulfur concentrations do not correlate well with tau measurements. Individual HCFI were analyzed using the DLFLM, and time-resolved fluorescence measurements were compared with tau data from the bulk oils. This enabled the fluid within the inclusions to be classified as either low alkane/high polar or high alkane/low polar. Within the high alkane/low polar group, it was possible to clearly discriminate HCFI from different locales and to see differences in the trapped hydrocarbon fluids from a single geological source. This methodology offers an alternative method for classifying the hydrocarbon content of HCFI and observing small variations in the trapped fluid composition that is less sensitive to fluctuations in the measurement method than fluorescence intensity based methods.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Colloids / analysis
  • Colloids / chemistry
  • Complex Mixtures / analysis*
  • Complex Mixtures / chemistry
  • Hydrocarbons / analysis*
  • Hydrocarbons / chemistry*
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence / methods*
  • Particle Size
  • Petroleum / analysis*


  • Colloids
  • Complex Mixtures
  • Hydrocarbons
  • Petroleum