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Thursday 21 May 2009

Definition: In organic chemistry, a hydrocarbon is an organic compound consisting entirely of hydrogen and carbon.

With relation to chemical terminology, aromatic hydrocarbons or arenes, alkanes, alkenes and alkyne-based compounds composed entirely of carbon or hydrogen are referred to as "pure" hydrocarbons, whereas other hydrocarbons with bonded compounds or impurities of sulfur or nitrogen, are referred to as "impure", and remain somewhat erroneously referred to as hydrocarbons.

Hydrocarbons are referred to as consisting of a "backbone" or "skeleton" composed entirely of carbon and hydrogen and other bonded compounds, and have a functional group that generally facilitates combustion.

The majority of hydrocarbons found naturally occur in crude oil, where decomposed organic matter provides an abundance of carbon and hydrogen which, when bonded, can catenate to form seemingly limitless chains.

See also

- isoprene
- terpene