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Year 10 Science Lesson

Year Level(s) Years 7-10
Subject Area(s) Science General Science Earth & Environmental Science
Topic(s) Energy Environment Mining Liquid Fuels
Publish Date 3rd May 2011

QER is acknowledged with providing assistance for this resource.

“Chemistry of extracting oil from oil shale”

Hydrocarbons have been recovered from shale containing an organic material called kerogen for at least 600 years. In northwest Colorado, Ute Indian legends told of warriors who saw lightning ignite certain rock formations, causing them to burn. Cowboys and rangers burned the dark rock in their fires like coal. It’s said that a Parachute area rancher and frontiersman named Mike Callihan discovered the phenomenon in spectacular style. Unknowingly building his fireplace of oil shale, upon lighting his first fire he experienced the ultimate in housewarmings, with both fireplace and cabin going up in flames!

From such experiences came the knowledge of oil shale. Using content from QER’s New Fuels Development Centre and oil shale mine at Yarwun near Gladstone, students will gain an increased understanding of how the oil shale mining process works.

In this lesson, students will identify physical changes and chemical reactions in the process of extracting oil from oil shale and articulate the role of heat and catalysts in increasing the rate of chemical reactions.
This lesson has been designed to align with the science Australian Curriculum year 10.


Australian Curriculum content statements
Science: ACSSU187; ACSHE194

Lesson Chemistry Of Extracting Oil From Oil Shale Year 10 1

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