Aliphatic hydrocarbon

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One of two major classifications of hydrocarbon compounds. The other classification is aromatic hydrocarbon. Aliphatic hydrocarbons contain carbon atoms, and corresponding hydrogens, arranged in straight or branched chains. Starting with methane (CH4), aliphatic hydrocarbons increase in chain length and complexity with the addition of each carbon atom. Many aliphatic compounds are derived from petroleum distillates. Aliphatic hydrocarbons subgroups are:

1) paraffins or alkanes (CnH2n+2): saturated hydrocarbons like propane or hexane.

2) olefins or alkenes (CnH2n): unsaturated hydrocarbons having one or more double bonds, such as ethylene or propylene,

3) acetylenes or alkynes (CnH2n-2): unsaturated hydrocarbons having one or more triple bonds, such as acetylene or allylene,

4) alicyclic: unsaturated hydrocarbon rings (not always included).

Resources and Citations

  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971
  • Reed Kay, The Painter's Guide To Studio Methods and Materials, Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1983
  • Theodore J. Reinhart, 'Glossary of Terms', Engineered Plastics, ASM International, 1988