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Aliphatic Hydrocarbon

During 1934 the work on aliphatic compounds chemistry was on full swing and all the synthesis continued to be a major campaign. The investigations around aliphatic hydrocarbon compounds continued unabated and too many progress were made in the field of acetylene derivatives. The work on thermal decomposition and free radicals was also got too much of prominence and eventually lot many catalysed reactions at temperatures below pyrolysis range and high pressure was encouraged to bring in the industrial revolution.

Along with these the hydrogenation under high pressure showcased molecules of aliphatic group which were unknown made available in plenty. Hydrocarbons are extremely important to our everyday life and more so after the industrial revolution which made these compounds essential not only for our daily needs but for may other precision instrumentations.


Aliphatic Hydrocarbon Definition

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Hydrocarbons are compounds made solely of carbon and hydrogen atoms in which each carbon forms four covalent bonds. The aliphatic hydrocarbons are the alkanes, alkenes and alkynes.

Hydrocarbons are source of energy to heat and light that engages us in our daily life and activities. They also provide almost every plastic items, the fuel for our vehicles and a major ingredient of the food that we consume.

Hydrocarbons are also abundant in nature, as flavour or fragrance of plants as insect pheromones and as lipids and latex. The difference in all of these types of bonds formed between atoms affect the sigma and pi bonds of carbon – carbon atoms which helps us anticipate the difference in the reactivity of various classes of aliphatic hydrocarbons.
  • Hydrocarbons that have only single bonds C-C are known as saturated hydrocarbons whereas unsaturated hydrocarbons molecules have double or triple bonds in between carbon atoms.
  • The aliphatic series of first ten alkane molecules represent the proportions of carbon to hydrogen in each molecule.
  • The formulas do not reveal much about their structure but rather indicate the proportions of each elements in their molecules.
  • Each molecule may have several different structures and yet have the same molecular formula and hence such aliphatic hydrocarbons with same molecular formula but different structures are called isomers.
In around 1825 Michael faraday discovered an unknown substance that was produced from heated whale oil. Later it was isolated and named as benzene. In case of aliphatic compounds the best place to begin the search is their name from the basis of naming majority of organic molecules.
  • These aliphatic series has only single bonds between the carbons and hydrogen. The alkanes were further classified according to their orientation of straight or branched out chains.
  • In straight chained alkanes, the alkanes form a continuous non-branching chain. The first four members of the series are methane, ethane, propane and butane.
  • This aliphatic series of alkanes have a general formula of $C_nH_{2n+2}$ and here the ‘n’ is a whole number and as the series continues the next member differs from the previous member by one carbon and two hydrogen or $–CH_2$.
  • These series are termed as homologous of alkanes with a suffix of –ane.

Alkanes with more than three carbons can also have branched chains and a hydrogen atom from a carbon atom in the middle of chain is replaced by an alkyl group.
  • As the number of carbon atoms increase, the chances of having more number of isomers also increase.
  • The possibility of having more isomers increase with the different variation of branching out. For example, pentane ($C_{5}H_{12}$) has only three isomers while a molecule of $C_{20}H{42}$ (Eicosane) can have close to 30000 possible isomers.
The aliphatic hydrocarbons of straight chain alkanes are as follows. 

Aliphatic hydrocarbons with their chemical name, prefix and molecular formula are as follows:

 Chemical name 
 Molecular formula   Isomers 
 Methane  Meth  $CH_{4}$  1
 Ethane  Eth  $C_{2}H_{6}$  1
 Propane  Prop  $C_{3}H_{8}$  1
 But  $C_{4}H_{10}$  2
 Pentane  Pen  $C_{5}H_{12}$  3
 Hex  $C_{6}H_{14}$  5
 Heptane  Hept  $C_{7}H_{16}$  9
 Octane  Oct  $C_{8}H_{18}$  18

Not all alkanes of aliphatic hydrocarbons contain a straight or branched chain of carbon atoms.
  • Cycloalkanes have their carbon atoms arranged in a ring format. And this give rise to lesser hydrogen atoms with same number of carbon atoms in cycloalkanes.
  • The naming of these series of aliphatic hydrocarbons is carried out by simply insering the prefix cyclo before the name describing the carbon atom number.
  • The ring in such aliphatic hydrocarbons is considered as the parent. 

  • Apart from these aliphatic hydrocarbons we get to see alkenes and alkynes with general formula of $C_{n}H2n$ and $C_{n}H{2n-2}$, implying that they are not saturated and have double and triple bond in their chains.
  • Naming of both these unsaturated aliphatic hydrocarbon series is different from what we have observed in alkanes.
  • The presence of double and triple bonds sets the preference of numbering the carbons in the chain and moreover, the position of these double and triple bonds are also mentioned in names to highlight their presence as well as the carbon atoms to which these bonds are present in between.

Aliphatic Hydrocarbon Solvents

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Hydrocarbons solvents are compounds containing only carbon and hydrogen atoms. A very large number of both aliphatic and aromatic solvents blends are produced by many of the petrochemical companies from distillation refining of petroleum stock and the alkylation of certain distillation products and selective catalytic hydrogenation of aliphatic hydrocarbons.
  • The hydrogenation process eliminates unwanted components from the hydrocarbons and also converts undesirable fractions into useful hydrocarbons.
  • Typical reactions include the removal of nitrogen, oxygen and sulpur inclusive compounds and then converting acetylene and aromatic and olefin hydrocarbons into saturated normal paraffin, iso-paraffin, and cyclo-paraffin.
  • These petroleum solvents are used worldwide in chemical industries and much other industrial application uses where these solvents are essential.
  • The solvents that are used can be both active solvents to dissolve and ingredient or as inexpensive diluters for many types of coatings and paints.
  • Many varieties of aliphatic hydrocarbon solvents which are de-aromatised find use in industrial and other institutional cleaning products.
  • Some of these are synthetically produced iso-paraffins or branched chain and normal paraffin which are basically straight chain blends utilized for cleaning formulations.
  • These paraffin are often blended with oxygenated and other formulations for effective cleaning products and performance.
  • The aliphatic hydrocarbon solvents work as a very good cleanser and have excellent wetting ability, and are also less corrosive, low toxic and very less odour. Examples of such cleanser containing aliphatic hydrocarbon solvents are petroleum and aqueous metal working fluids, buffing, and polishing compounds. Metal shiners, vehicle body polishers etc.
  • The synthetic iso-paraffins are suitable for alkyd and acrylic paint formulations.
  • These virtually odourless solvents and have low surface tension improve flow and wetting properties.
  • The hydrocarbons blend with cyclo-paraffin to produce architectural coatings, automotive refinish coatings, industrial metal and wood coatings and all kinds of marine coating formulations.
  • Some of these aliphatic formulations of solvents are used to produce pesticide application formulations, wood preservatives, fat and oil extractors, paper coatings and textile or printing inks as well as varnish and lacquers.
  • These are some of the largest uses of aliphatic hydrocarbon solvents.
Most of the aliphatic hydrocarbon solvents contain minor amounts of naphthenes or cyclo-paraffin, cyclic aliphatic. Purely naphthenic hydrocarbon solvents have limited commercial uses and availability as well.

These are mostly used as a chemical intermediate and not as a solvent in the manufacture of nylon fiber and engineering resins, polyurethane, polyesters, and epoxy resins. Compared to these the Terpene solvents are obtained from pine trees and as a by-product of citrus industries.

These are considered to be amongst the oldest of all solvents and the main solvents in this group are turpentine, di-pentene and pine oil. The terpenes are similar volatility as mineral spirits but have only minor commercial significance as they are expensive than aliphatic hydrocarbon solvents.

Products With Aliphatic Hydrocarbon

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The products that we get to see with aliphatic hydrocarbons include large varieties of perfumes, esters, and artificial flavors, furnishings, building materials, office equipment, room fresheners, paints, paint strippers, household solvents and many microorganism repellents.
  • Outdoor sources: traffic and industries
  • Building materials: insulation, paint, plywood, adhesive
  • Furnishing material: furniture, floor covers
  • Garage and combustion appliances: vehicle emission, tobacco, and candles
  • Consumer products: cleaners, personal care products, and personal hygiene
  • Biological: moulds, bacteria extracts like citrates, acetates etc.

Aliphatic Hydrocarbon Uses

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The industrial uses of aliphatic hydrocarbons are immense and the most prolific of these are used in vulcanization industries.
  • These are also used in the industrial sector of natural gas, petroleum, naphtha cracking, gasoline, kerosene and mineral spirits.
  • The major uses of these aliphatic hydrocarbons include the refrigeration segments, propellants, dry cleaning agents, lubricants, solvents and a huge amount of chemical intermediates.
  • The industrial applications include the preparation of pesticides, organic chemical synthesis, and food additives.

Aliphatic Hydrocarbon Examples

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The examples of aliphatic hydrocarbons are mainly segregated into saturated and unsaturated hydrocarbons. And then further categorised as straight chain, branched chain and cyclo forms.
 Saturated (alkanes) 
 Straight chained   Cyclo forms 
 Methane  Cyclopropane 
 Cyclo pentane 
 Cyclo hexane
 Cyclo heptane
 Hexane  Cyclo octane

 Alkene Alkyne 
 Ethene  Ethyne
 Propene  Propyne
 Pentene  Pentyne
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