Classification of Hydrocarbons

Hydrocarbons as is clear from Hydrogen + Carbon, meaning compounds which are made up of carbon and hydrogen. Also these compounds are known as Organic Compounds, as most of these are found in the nature in form of natural gas, petroleum, coal. These Hydrocarbons are made up of buried remains of ancient organisms(plants, animals, and other microorganisms). Due to higher temperature and pressure under anaerobic conditions(less availability of oxygen as required) these remains of organisms turned into Hydrocarbons.

As in the different areas on the Earth, temperature/pressure conditions were different that’s why old remains tuned into different types of compounds each having hydrogen, carbon. That’s could be the reason for existence of so many types of Hydrocarbons in the nature.

In this article, I’ll discuss about classification of Hydrocarbons. Like how these hydrocarbons are classified into different categories?

On the first level Hydrocarbons are divided into two categories – Saturated, Unsaturated Hydrocarbons. This classification is based upon whether there are carbon-carbon multiple bonds or not in the Hydrocarbon.
For example – Ethane(CH3 – CH3) contain only singly bonded carbon atoms so it’s a Saturated Hydrocarbon. While on the other hand, Ethene(CH2 = CH2) does contain one double bond between two carbon atoms so it’s an Unsaturated Hydrocarbon.

  • Saturated Hydrocarbons – Hydrocarbons which just have single carbon to carbon bonds. For example – Alkanes
  • Unsaturated Hydrocarbons – Hydrocarbons which have one or more multiple carbon to carbon bonds. For example – Alkenes, Alkynes

Dividing further up these two categories, Straight Chained Saturated Hydrocarbons are called Alkanes while Cyclic Saturated Hydrocarbons are called Cycloalkanes.
In the same way, Unsaturated Hydrocarbons containing one or more double bonds are called Alkenes, while those containing one or more than one triple bond are called Alkynes.

Saturated Hydrocarbons => Alkanes, Cycloalkanes
Unsaturated Hydrocarbons => Alkenes, Alkynes

Examples of Alkanes are Methane(CH4), Ethane(CH3 – CH3)

Examples of Cycloalkanes are Cyclobutane(CH2 – CH2 – CH2 – CH2)

Examples of Alkenes are Ethene(CH2 = CH2), Propene(CH3 – CH = CH2)

Examples of Alkynes are Propyne(CH3 – C CH)

Chart showing Classification of Hydrocarbons into Saturated, Unsaturated. Saturated is further classified into Alkanes, Unsaturated is further classified into Alkenes, Alkynes

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