An introduction to hydrocarbons. Learn how unreactive alkanes can be made into reactive alkenes.
- Facts about hydrocarbons, for example:
- Hydrocarbons are the simplest organic compounds.
- Alkanes make poor fuels, are thick and don't combust easily.
- Alkenes, like alcohol and polyethylene, are more reactive.
Hydrocarbons are the simplest organic compounds, made purely of carbon and hydrogen.
Most of the compounds in crude oil are hydrocarbons.
The majority of these are alkanes.
Alkanes have only single bonds.
They share the same formula: CnH2n+2
Alkanes make poor fuels.
They are thick and don't easily combust.
But alkanes can become more useful alkenes using catalytic cracking, which breaks chemical bonds.
Smaller alkenes always contain at least one double bond.
They share a formula too: CnH2n
The double bond makes alkenes more reactive than alkanes.
The bonds can be cracked to make alcohol and plastics, like polythene – the most widely used plastic in the world.