A hydrocarbon is a type of chemical compound. It is made of only hydrogen and carbon atoms. They can be found in crude oil and are separated by fractional distillation (which means they are separated into different groups). The hydrogen and carbon are bonded with non-polar covalent bonds. Because of its lack of polar covalent bonds, hydrocarbons cannot create hydrogen bonds with water and are hydrophobic.
Hydrocarbon "families"[change | change source]
Hydrocarbons are grouped into "families" or "homologous series". There are five main families. The hydrocarbons in each family have a general formula and similar chemical properties, and similar trends in physical properties. This system was approved in 1892 by the International Congress of Chemists, meeting in Geneva.
Alkanes[change | change source]
Alkanes are the simplest hydrocarbons. Their general formula is CnH2n+2.
Alkenes[change | change source]
Note that there is no "Methene". Methene is not possible as alkenes require a carbon-carbon double bond and methane only has one carbon atom.
Alkynes[change | change source]
Alkynes have a carbon to carbon triple bond. CnH2n-2 is their general formula.
"Methyne" does not exist because of methane's one carbon atom.
Cycloalkanes[change | change source]
Note that the alkene Ethene does not have a cycloalkane as it can only form a straight line.
Alkadiene[change | change source]
In a similar manner, there can also exist alkatriene (three carbon to carbon bonds) and other forms. The versatile nature of Carbon's chemistry allows for a nearly infinite number of configurations and compounds.
Aromatic hydrocarbons[change | change source]
Aromatic hydrocarbons are aromatic organic molecules that form flat ring-shaped bonds. The most simplest of aromatic hydrocarbons are benzene and indole. They can have one ring, heterocyclic, like benzene or 2 rings, bicyclic like napthalene (primary ingredient in mothballs) or many rings, polycyclic like anthracene (red dye colourant). Their general formula is CnH2n-6, where n is a number greater than or equal to 6.