What are Hydrocarbons?
Hydrocarbons are one of the major components of organic chemistry. They are organic compounds which are made up of hydrogen and carbon atoms. The molecular formula for these compounds is CxHy. The above-mentioned compounds play a vital role in daily life and most of them occur in nature.
The major part of fossil fuels is made up of these organic compounds. Their existence is seen in plants and trees. For example, Carotenes is an organic pigment which is found in green leaves and carrots. These hydrogen and carbon compounds make up to 98 percent natural crude rubber. They possess large internal energy which renders them their importance.
Types of Hydrocarbons
These organic compounds are classified into:
- Saturated hydrocarbons: They are the compounds in which carbon-carbon atoms and carbon-hydrogen atoms are held together by single bonds. These single bonded compounds are the simplest hydrocarbons. The general formula for these single bonded organic compounds is CnH2n+2.
- Unsaturated hydrocarbons: These compounds consist of a single, double or a triple bond between carbon-carbon atoms. The double-bonded compounds are called alkenes and the triple bonded compounds are called alkynes. The general formula for alkenes is CnH2n and for alkynes the general formula is CnH2n-2.
- Cycloalkanes: These are hydrocarbons which possess one or multiple carbon rings. The hydrogen atom is attached to the carbon ring.
- Aromatic Hydrocarbons: These hydrocarbons are also called as arenes. Arenes are compounds which consist of at least one aromatic ring.
Cracking of Hydrocarbons
It is a process in which heavy organic molecules are broken down into lighter molecules. This is accomplished by supplying an adequate amount of heat and pressure. Sometimes catalysts are used to speed up the reaction. This process plays a very important role in the commercial production of diesel fuel and gasoline.
Uses of Hydrocarbons
- Hydrocarbons are widely used as fuels. For example LPG (liquefied petroleum gas), CNG (Liquefied natural gas).
- They are used in the manufacturing of polymers such as polyethylene, polystyrene etc.
- These organic compounds find their application in the manufacturing of drugs and dyes as a starting material.
- They serve as lubricating oil and grease.
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