Definition - What does Hydrocarbon mean?

A hydrocarbon is a compound that is entirely made up of hydrogen and carbon atoms. Most of the hydrocarbons found on Earth occur naturally in crude oil, where decaying organic matter provided plenty of hydrogen and carbon atoms that bonded to create seemingly limitless chains.

Hydrocarbons have various molecular structures that result in different empirical formulas among the hydrocarbons. Their inherent ability to bond to themselves, known as catenation, allows them to create complex molecules like cyclohexane and benzene.

Corrosionpedia explains Hydrocarbon

Hydrocarbons are the primary source of energy for many societies and are primarily used as a source of combustible fuel. They take the form of bitumen when they are solids. The hydrocarbon types are:

  • Cycloalklanes: Consist of one or more carbon rings with attached hydrocarbon atoms.
  • Aromatic hydrocarbons: Also known as arenes, they consist of at least one aromatic ring.
  • Saturated hydrocarbons: The simplest form of hydrocarbon species that contain only single bonds.
  • Unsaturated hydrocarbons: Contain one or more double or triple bonds between the carbon atoms.
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