20 Examples of Hydrocarbons

The hydrocarbons are organic compounds consisting exclusively of a shell of atoms of hydrogen and carbon, which are the basis of all organic chemistry. The structure of said atomic frameworks can be linear or branched, open or closed, and depending on their arrangement and number of components, it will be a question of one or another substance.

The hydrocarbons are flammable and large capacity industrial processing substances, thus constituting the basis of the global mining, enabling the development of complex materials, caloric and electric energies, and lighting, among other possible applications. They are also a considerable source of poisoning, as they often give off fumes harmful to health.

Hydrocarbons are classified according to two possible criteria:

According to its structure, we have :

  • Acyclic or open-chain. In turn, divided into linear or branched.
  • Cyclic or closed chain. In turn, divided into monocyclic and polycyclic.

Depending on the type of bond between its atoms, we have :

  • Aromatic. They have an aromatic ring, that is to say, of the cyclic structure according to the Hückel rule. They are derived from Benzene.
  • Aliphatic . They lack an aromatic ring (they are not derived from benzene) and in turn, they are divided into saturated (single atomic bonds) and unsaturated (at least one double bond).

Examples of hydrocarbons

  1. Methane (CH 4 ) . A gas with a repulsive odor, highly flammable, present in the atmosphere of the large gaseous planets and as a product in ours from the decomposition of organic matter or product of mining activities.
  2. Ethane (C 2 H 6 ) . Highly flammable gas of which they constitute natural gas and capable of producing freezing in contact with organic tissues.
  3. Butane (C 4 H 10 ) . Colorless and stable gas, widely used as a high-pressure fuel (liquid) in the domestic context.
  4. Propane (C 3 H 8 ). Also gaseous, colorless and odorless, endowed with high explosiveness and narcotic properties when in high concentrations.
  5. Pentane (C5H12). Despite being one of the first four alkane hydrocarbons , pentane is normally in a liquid state. It is used as a solvent and as an energy medium, given its high safety and low cost.
  6. Benzene (C 6 H 6 ). A colorless liquid with a sweet aroma, highly flammable and also highly carcinogenic, is among the most widely produced industrial products today. It is used in the manufacture of gums, detergents, pesticides, medicines, plastics, resins and in oil refining.
  7. Hexane (C 6 H 14 ) . One of the few toxic alkanes, it is used as a solvent for some paints and adhesives, as well as in obtaining pomace oil. Its use, however, is restricted, since it is an addictive neurotoxic.
  8. Heptane (C 7 H 16 ) . Liquid at ambient pressure and temperature , it is highly flammable and explosive. It is used in the fuel industry as the octane zero point, and as a working base in the pharmaceutical industry.
  9. Octane (C 8 H 18 ) . It constitutes point 100 on the gasoline octane scale, opposite to heptane, and has a long list of isomers for industrial use.
  10. 1-Hexene (C 6 H 12 ) . Classified in the industry as a superior paraffin and alpha-olefin, it is a colorless liquid indispensable in obtaining polyethylene and certain aldehydes.
  11. Ethylene (C 2 H 4 ). The most widely used organic compound in the world, it is both a natural plant hormone and an industrial compound necessary for the manufacture of plastic. It is usually obtained from the dehydrogenation of ethane.
  12. Acetylene (C 2 H 2 ). Colorless gas, lighter than air and highly flammable, produces a flame capable of reaching 3000 ° C, one of the highest temperatures manageable by man. It is used as a source of lighting and heat in various industries and applications.
  13. Trichlorethylene (C 2 HCl 3 ). Colorless, non-flammable liquid with a sweet smell and taste, it is highly carcinogenic and toxic, capable of interrupting the cardiac, respiratory and hepatic cycles. It is a powerful solvent for industrial use that does not exist in nature.
  14. Trinitrotoluene (C 7 H 5 N 3 O 6 ). Known as TNT, it is a highly explosive, crystalline, pale yellow compound. It does not react with metals nor does it absorb water, so it has a long life and is widely used as part of bombs and industrial and war explosives.
  15. Phenol (C 6 H 6 O). Also known as phenyl or phenyl acid or phenyl hydroxide, it is solid in its pure form, crystalline, and white or colorless. It is used in obtaining resins, nylon and as a disinfectant or part of various and medical preparations.
  16. Tar. The Complex mixture of organic compounds whose formula varies according to the nature of its production and its temperature and other variables, it is a liquid, bituminous, viscous and dark substance, with a strong odor and many applications, from psoriasis treatment to road paving.
  17. Also known as petroleum ether, it is a volatile, flammable, and liquid mixture of saturated hydrocarbons, derived from petroleum, used as a solvent and as a fuel. It should not be confused with benzene or ethers or gasoline. 
  18. Kerosene. A common fuel, not very clean and obtained through the distillation of natural oil. It is composed of a mixture of hydrocarbons in a transparent and yellowish liquid, insoluble in water, used for lighting and surface cleaning purposes, as well as pesticide and motor lubricant.
  19. Gasoline. Obtained from petroleum by direct or fractional distillation, this blend of hundreds of hydrocarbons is used in internal combustion engines as the cleanest, best performing and most popular fuel known, especially after it was stripped of lead in the early 2000s.
  20. Oil. The most important hydrocarbon known in industrial terms, from which it is possible to synthesize many others and various other types of substances, is produced underground from organic matter accumulated in geological traps and subjected to extremely high pressures. It is of fossil origin, a dense, viscous black liquid, whose world reserves are non-renewable, but which constitutes the main input for the automotive, electrical, chemical and materials industries.


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