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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Explain the importance of hydrocarbons and the reason for their diversity
  • Name saturated and unsaturated hydrocarbons, and molecules derived from them
  • Describe the reactions characteristic of saturated and unsaturated hydrocarbons
  • Identify structural and geometric isomers of hydrocarbons

The largest database This is the Beilstein database, now available through the Reaxys site (www.elsevier.com/online-tools/reaxys). of organic compounds lists about 10 million substances, which include compounds originating from living organisms and those synthesized by chemists. The number of potential organic compounds has been estimated Peplow, Mark. “Organic Synthesis: The Robo-Chemist,” Nature 512 (2014): 20–2. at 10 60 —an astronomically high number. The existence of so many organic molecules is a consequence of the ability of carbon atoms to form up to four strong bonds to other carbon atoms, resulting in chains and rings of many different sizes, shapes, and complexities.

The simplest organic compounds contain only the elements carbon and hydrogen, and are called hydrocarbons. Even though they are composed of only two types of atoms, there is a wide variety of hydrocarbons because they may consist of varying lengths of chains, branched chains, and rings of carbon atoms, or combinations of these structures. In addition, hydrocarbons may differ in the types of carbon-carbon bonds present in their molecules. Many hydrocarbons are found in plants, animals, and their fossils; other hydrocarbons have been prepared in the laboratory. We use hydrocarbons every day, mainly as fuels, such as natural gas, acetylene, propane, butane, and the principal components of gasoline, diesel fuel, and heating oil. The familiar plastics polyethylene, polypropylene, and polystyrene are also hydrocarbons. We can distinguish several types of hydrocarbons by differences in the bonding between carbon atoms. This leads to differences in geometries and in the hybridization of the carbon orbitals.


Alkanes , or saturated hydrocarbons , contain only single covalent bonds between carbon atoms. Each of the carbon atoms in an alkane has sp 3 hybrid orbitals and is bonded to four other atoms, each of which is either carbon or hydrogen. The Lewis structures and models of methane, ethane, and pentane are illustrated in [link] . Carbon chains are usually drawn as straight lines in Lewis structures, but one has to remember that Lewis structures are not intended to indicate the geometry of molecules. Notice that the carbon atoms in the structural models (the ball-and-stick and space-filling models) of the pentane molecule do not lie in a straight line. Because of the sp 3 hybridization, the bond angles in carbon chains are close to 109.5°, giving such chains in an alkane a zigzag shape.

The structures of alkanes and other organic molecules may also be represented in a less detailed manner by condensed structural formulas (or simply, condensed formulas ). Instead of the usual format for chemical formulas in which each element symbol appears just once, a condensed formula is written to suggest the bonding in the molecule. These formulas have the appearance of a Lewis structure from which most or all of the bond symbols have been removed. Condensed structural formulas for ethane and pentane are shown at the bottom of [link] , and several additional examples are provided in the exercises at the end of this chapter.

Questions & Answers

what are ionic compound
elepo Reply
where can I find the Arrhenius equation
onwuchekwa Reply
ln(k two/k one)= (- activation energy/R)(1/T two - 1/T one) T is tempuratue in Kelvin, K is rate constant but you can also use rate two and one instead, R is 8.314 J/mol×Kelvin
if ur solving for k two or k one you will need to use e to cancel out ln
what is an atom
Precious Reply
An atom is the smallest particle of an element which can take part in a chemical reaction..
how to find the rate of reaction?
what is isomerism ?
Lucky Reply
Formula for equilibrium
Danmori Reply
is it equilibrium constant
what us atomic of molecule
Imhologhomhe Reply
chemical formula for water
Muhammad Reply
what is elemental
Maryam Reply
what are the properties of pressure
How can water be turned to gas
what's a periodic table
Okiemute Reply
this can be defined as the systematic way of arranging element into vertical spaces called periods and horizontal spaces called groups on a table
how does carbon catenate?
obuke Reply
condition in cracking from Diesel to petrol
Brient Reply
hey I don't understand anything in chemistry so I was wondering if you could help me
Ruth Reply
i also
I also
condition for cracking diesel to form kerosene
can you tell me
please let me know
what is periodic law
rotimi Reply
periodic law state that the physical and chemical properties of an element is the periodic function of their atomic number
how is valency calculated
Ashley Reply
How is velency calculated
Hi am Isaac, The number of electrons within the outer shell of the element determine its valency . To calculate the valency of an element(or molecule, for that matter), there are multiple methods. ... The valency of an atom is equal to the number of electrons in the outer shell if that number is fou
what is the oxidation number of this compound fecl2,fecl3,fe2o3
Asmau Reply

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