Hydrocarbon Essay

2014 Words9 Pages
Hydrocarbons Background The number of known organic compounds totals into the millions. Of these compounds, the simplest types are those which contain only hydrogen and carbon atoms. These are known as hydrocarbons. Because of the number and variety of hydrocarbons that can exist, some means of classification is necessary. One means of classification depends on the way in which carbon atoms are connected. Chain aliphatic hydrocarbons are compounds consisting of carbons linked either in a single chain or in a branched chain. Cyclic hydrocarbons are aliphatic compounds that have carbon atoms linked in a closed polygon (also referred to as a ring). For example, hexane (single) and 2-methylpentane (branched) are chain aliphatic molecules, while cyclohexane is a cyclic aliphatic compound. Another means of classification depends on the type of bonding that exists between carbons. Hydrocarbons which contain only carbon-to-carbon single bonds are called alkanes. These are also referred to as saturated molecules. Hydrocarbons containing at least one carbon-to-carbon double bond are called alkenes, and those compounds with at least one carbon-to-carbon triple bond are called alkynes. These are compounds that are referred to as unsaturated molecules. Finally, a class of cyclic hydrocarbons that contain a closed loop (sextet) of electrons are called aromatic. With so many compounds possible, identification of the bond type is an important step in establishing the molecular structure. Quick, simple tests on small samples can establish the physical and chemical properties of the compounds by class. Some of the observed physical properties of hydrocarbons result from the nonpolar character of the compounds. In general, hydrocarbons do not mix with polar solvents such as water or ethyl alcohol. On the other hand, hydrocarbons mix with relatively nonpolar solvents such as

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