KENNETH EWARD / BIOGRAFX / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY KENNETH EWARD / BIOGRAFX / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Alkanes. Molecular representation of the first three alkanes methane (CH4 top left), ethane (C2H6 top right) and propane (C3H8). Carbon atoms (C) are blue and hydrogen (H) purple. Alkanes are members of a group of hydrocarbons having the general formula CnH2n+2, where n is an integer number, and commonly known as paraffins. The first four alkanes, methane, ethane, propane and butane are colourless gases, the higher members are liquids and those above C16H34 are waxy solids. Alkanes are insoluble in water but soluble in chloroform and benzene. They form the chief natural gas.
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