What are the functions of alkanes?

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Alkanes are a group of saturated hydrocarbons. The carbon atoms and the hydrogen atoms within alkanes are connected by single covalent bonds.

The number of carbon atoms within an alkane is the main determiner of an alkane.  Examples of the functions of some alkanes are identified below.

  • The first four alkanes are used for heating and cooking or electricity. For example, methane is used within natural gas.
  • Propane and butane are found within liquid petroleum gas. For example, propane gas is used as a fuel for cars. Butane is the gas that is used in cigarette lighters.
  • Alkanes with five to eight carbons, pentane to octane, are volatile. Therefore, they are used in internal combustion engines. They are also commonly used as solvents for nonpolar substances.
  • Alkanes with nine to sixteen carbons, nonane to hexadecane, are used in diesel and aviation fuels.

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