Introduction to the Alkanes

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Alkanes

Alkanes are chemical compounds that contain only hydrogen and carbon atoms, bonded by single bonds. Alkanes have weak intermolecular forces so they are easily broken and very volatile. The larger alkanes hold together better, have higher melting and boiling points, and less volatility than the smaller alkanes. C1 to C4 are gases at room temperature and C5 to C8 are liquids. Pros of short alkanes C1-C4:

* Are in gas form so can be suppressed and can get shorter chains than C5-C8 alkanes in that same space. Cons of short alkanes C1-C4:
* It is more highly volatile, highly reactive, meaning highly combustible. Alkanes are highly flammable and there is a constant risk of explosion. C1 to C8 hydrocarbons are highly flammable and must be stored & transported so vapour cannot build up to make an explosive mixture with the air. Alkanes have low flash points which is the lowest temperature for enough vapour to make an explosive mixture, forces them to be in cool well-ventilated areas. The safety precautions need to be taken are:

* Use well-maintained cylinders and fittings for gaseous hydrocarbons * Add odours for early detection of leaks
* Use sturdy containers for liquids
* Minimise the quantities in everyday use
* Keep alkanes away from naked flames or sparks
* Erect warning signs
* Do not handle these liquids in confined spaces.
Alkanes are extremely flammable, have high concentrations and can be toxic. Therefore there are safety issues concerning their storage. This is due to the only intermolecular forces found in alkanes are weak dispersion forces.
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