alkane

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alkane

(ăl`kān), any of a group of aliphatic hydrocarbons whose molecules contain only single bonds (see chemical bondchemical bond,
mechanism whereby atoms combine to form molecules. There is a chemical bond between two atoms or groups of atoms when the forces acting between them are strong enough to lead to the formation of an aggregate with sufficient stability to be regarded as an
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). Alkanes have the general chemical formula CnH2n+2. An alkane is said to have a continuous chain if each carbon atom in its molecule is joined to at most two other carbon atoms; it is said to have a branched chain if any of its carbon atoms is joined to more than two other carbon atoms. The first four continuous-chain alkanes are methanemethane
, CH4, colorless, odorless, gaseous saturated hydrocarbon; the simplest alkane. It is less dense than air, melts at −184°C;, and boils at −161.4°C;. It is combustible and can form explosive mixtures with air.
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, CH4; ethaneethane
, CH3CH3, gaseous hydrocarbon. It is a continuous-chain alkane. As a constituent of natural gas, it is used for fuel. It can be prepared by cracking and fractional distillation of petroleum.
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, C2H6; propanepropane,
CH3CH2CH3, colorless, gaseous alkane. It is readily liquefied by compression and cooling. It melts at −189.9°C; and boils at −42.2°C;.
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, C3H8; and butanebutane
, C4H10, gaseous alkane, a hydrocarbon that is obtained from natural gas or by refining petroleum. It can be liquefied at room temperature by compression. There are two structural isomers of butane.
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, C4H10. Names of continuous-chain alkanes whose molecules contain more than five carbon atoms are formed from a root that indicates the number of carbon atoms and the suffix -ane to indicate that the compound is an alkane; e.g., alkanes with 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 carbon atoms in their molecules are pentane, hexane, heptane, octane, nonane, and decane, respectively. The name of a branched-chain alkane is formed by adding prefixes to the name of the continuous-chain alkane from which it is considered to be derived; e.g., 2-methylpropane (called also isobutane) is thought of as being derived by replacing one of the hydrogen atoms bonded to the second (2-) carbon atom of a propane molecule with a methyl (CH3) group, forming CH3CH(CH3)2. Chemically, the alkanes are relatively unreactive. They are obtained by fractional distillation from petroleum and are used extensively as fuels. The alkanes are sometimes referred to as the methane series (after the simplest alkane) or as paraffins.
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alkane

[′al‚kān]
(organic chemistry)
A member of a series of saturated aliphatic hydrocarbons having the empirical formula C n H2 n + 2. Also known as paraffin; paraffinic hydrocarbon.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

alkane

a. any saturated aliphatic hydrocarbon with the general formula CnH2n+2
b. (as modifier): alkane series
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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