Minerals, elements, and ores are seldom universally and evenly distributed across the earth? Instead mines, ores, and individual geologies seem to be at a play. But how? A prevailing geochemical paradigm is that many deposits/ores are associated with water transport. More recently Professor Williams-Jones has proposed that petroleum deposits are often found associated with platinum group metals and these may be responsible for their transport and deposition. This remarkable hypothesis correlates with considerable geology, and it needs a chemistry basis as well. How would a petroleum basin adsorb, move, and deposit gold, platinum, and palladium?
In joint NSERC/CRD grant with Professor Williams-Jones and Statoil we are determining the organometallic chemistry of this oil transport. We draw for this project on the now considerable organometallic chemistry of the platinum elements as well as the organic chemistry of the oil deposits. To date we have determined that a heavy fraction termed the asphaltenes are responsible for most the metal concentration and binding in the oils we are looking at. In this project we want to determine which specific substances bind the metals most strongly, and model this organometallic chemistry as prelude to manipulating these systems for platinum metal recovery.