Saturated hydrocarbons are those compounds formed only by carbon and hydrogen atoms, while an unsaturated hydrocarbon is one where some carbon atom is not saturated, that is, it is not joined to four atoms by simple bonds, but has some double bond or triple.
Saturated hydrocarbons are those chemical compounds that have their carbon atoms joined by single bonds. They are formed by the exclusive union of carbon and hydrogen atoms. They are obtained by fractional distillation of oil or natural gas.
They are aliphatic hydrocarbons of the generalized formula CnH2n + 2, where “n” refers to the number of carbons that make up the molecule.
They are given their name according to the number of carbon atoms that the chain that forms the molecule has and the ending-anus is added:
- Methane → CH4
- Ethane → C2H6
- Propane → C3H8
- Butane → C4H10
- Pentane → C5H12
- Hexane → C6H14
- Heptane → C7H16
They are insoluble in water but soluble in organic solvents, they are not very reactive and under suitable conditions, they can have combustion and cracking reactions and can be halogenated.
It is that hydrocarbon that has some of its unsaturated hydrogen atoms, that is, joined to other atoms by simple bonds, but has a double or triple bond. They can be alkenes (with double bonds) and alkynes (with triple bonds)
Alkenes have at least one double bond between two carbon atoms. One case is ethene or ethylene CH2 = CH2
They are named the same as alkanes, but with the ending -eno.
Alkynes have at least one triple bond and are named the same as alkanes, with the ending -info.
Alkenes and alkynes have positional isomers because the position of the double and triple bonds can vary.
Difference between Saturated and Unsaturated Hydrocarbons
- A saturated hydrocarbon or alkanes have a higher number of hydrogen atoms and single bonds are formed between carbon and hydrogen. Its general formula is C n H 2n + 2 where n is the number of carbons that make up the molecule.
- An unsaturated hydrocarbon has at least one triple or double bond in its configuration. They are defined as alkenes and alkynes. They are more reactive than alkanes.