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Making the Transition to University Chemistry

Making the Transition to University Chemistry

Michael Clugston, Malcolm Stewart, and Fabrice Birembaut
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date: 14 July 2024

p. 155 Chapter 17 Hydrocarbons: Alkaneslocked

p. 155 Chapter 17 Hydrocarbons: Alkaneslocked

  • Michael Clugston, Michael Clugstonformerly Tonbridge School
  • Malcolm StewartMalcolm StewartUniversity of Oxford
  •  and Fabrice BirembautFabrice BirembautCaen, France


This chapter tackles the concept of alkanes, a type of hydrocarbon. It defines a hydrocarbon as containing hydrogen and carbon only. Alkanes are saturated hydrocarbons. Crude oil is an example of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons, most of which are alkanes. Fractional distillation allows for the separation of the mixture and relies on the different fractions with varying boiling points. The chapter explores the mechanism for radical chain reaction and photochemical halogenation which occur through the reaction of an alkane with a halogen. Finally, the combustion of alkanes is considered to be the most significant reaction commercially since it is also a radical chain reaction.

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