Skip to main content
Chemistry LibreTexts

13: Unsaturated and Aromatic Hydrocarbons

  • Page ID
    15932
  • Our modern society is based to a large degree on the chemicals we discuss in this chapter. Most are made from petroleum. Alkanes—saturated hydrocarbons—have relatively few important chemical properties other than that they undergo combustion and react with halogens. Unsaturated hydrocarbons—hydrocarbons with double or triple bonds—on the other hand, are quite reactive. In fact, they serve as building blocks for many familiar plastics—polyethylene, vinyl plastics, acrylics—and other important synthetic materials (e.g., alcohols, antifreeze, and detergents). Aromatic hydrocarbons have formulas that can be drawn as cyclic alkenes, making them appear unsaturated, but their structure and properties are generally quite different, so they are not considered to be alkenes. Aromatic compounds serve as the basis for many drugs, antiseptics, explosives, solvents, and plastics (e.g., polyesters and polystyrene). The two simplest unsaturated compounds—ethylene (ethene) and acetylene (ethyne)—were once used as anesthetics and were introduced to the medical field in 1924. However, it was discovered that acetylene forms explosive mixtures with air, so its medical use was abandoned in 1925. Ethylene was thought to be safer, but it too was implicated in numerous lethal fires and explosions during anesthesia. Even so, it remained an important anesthetic into the 1960s, when it was replaced by nonflammable anesthetics such as halothane (\(\mathrm{CHBrClCF_3}\)).

    • 13.0: Prelude to Unsaturated and Aromatic Hydrocarbons
      The two simplest unsaturated compounds—ethylene (ethene) and acetylene (ethyne)—were once used as anesthetics and were introduced to the medical field in 1924. However, it was discovered that acetylene forms explosive mixtures with air, so its medical use was abandoned in 1925. Ethylene was thought to be safer, but it too was implicated in numerous lethal fires and explosions during anesthesia. Even so, it remained an important anesthetic into the 1960s, when it was replaced by nonflammable anes
    • 13.1: Alkenes: Structures and Names
      Alkenes are hydrocarbons with a carbon-to-carbon double bond.
    • 13.2: Cis-Trans Isomers (Geometric Isomers)
      Cis-trans (geometric) isomerism exists when there is restricted rotation in a molecule and there are two nonidentical groups on each doubly bonded carbon atom.
    • 13.3: Physical Properties of Alkenes
      The physical properties of alkenes are much like those of the alkanes: their boiling points increase with increasing molar mass, and they are insoluble in water.
    • 13.4: Chemical Properties of Alkenes
      Alkenes undergo addition reactions, adding such substances as hydrogen, bromine, and water across the carbon-to-carbon double bond.
    • 13.5: Polymers
      Molecules having carbon-to-carbon double bonds can undergo addition polymerization.
    • 13.6: Alkynes
      Alkynes are similar to alkenes in both physical and chemical properties. For example, alkynes undergo many of the typical addition reactions of alkenes. The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) names for alkynes parallel those of alkenes, except that the family ending is -yne rather than -ene. The IUPAC name for acetylene is ethyne. The names of other alkynes are illustrated in the following exercises.
    • 13.7: Aromatic Compounds: Benzene
      Aromatic hydrocarbons appear to be unsaturated, but they have a special type of bonding and do not undergo addition reactions.
    • 13.8: Structure and Nomenclature of Aromatic Compounds
      Aromatic compounds contain a benzene ring or have certain benzene-like properties; for our purposes, you can recognize aromatic compounds by the presence of one or more benzene rings in their structure.
    • 13.E: Unsaturated and Aromatic Hydrocarbons (Exercises)
      Select problems and solutions for the chapter.
    • 13.S: Unsaturated and Aromatic Hydrocarbons (Summary)
      A brief summary of the chapter.