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Straight Chain Hydrocarbons

January 21, 2013

Hydrocarbons are organic compounds consisting of hydrogen and carbon. These hydrocarbons with a carboxylic acid and a long chain of aliphatic hydrocarbons are called a straight chain hydrocarbon or alternatively they are called fatty acids. Naturally occurring fatty acids usually have a chain of four to 28 carbons.

Thus, straight chain hydrocarbons can be defined as acyclic aliphatic mono carboxylic acids. These are found in animal or vegetable fat, wax or oil.

Straight Chain Hydrocarbons


There are 2 types of hydrocarbons:

  • Staurated fatty acids
  • Unsaturated fatty acids

Unsaturated Fatty Acids-a Type of Hydrocarbons

Here the hydrocarbon chain has one or more double-bonds. The double bonds may have either cis configuration or tans configuration.

Common name Chemical structure Δx C:D n−x
Myristoleic acid CH3(CH2)3CH=CH(CH2)7COOH cis-Δ9 14:1 n−5
Oleic acid CH3(CH2)7CH=CH(CH2)7COOH cis-Δ9 18:1 n−9
Palmitoleic acid CH3(CH2)5CH=CH(CH2)7COOH cis-Δ9 16:1 n−7
Sapienic acid CH3(CH2)8CH=CH(CH2)4COOH cis-Δ6 16:1 n−10
Linoleic acid CH3(CH2)4CH=CHCH2CH=CH(CH2)7COOH cis,cis-Δ912 18:2 n−6

Saturated Fatty Acids- another Type of Hydrocarbons

Saturated fatty acids are long-chain carboxylic acids which have between 12 and 24 carbon atoms and there are no double bonds. Therefore, saturated fatty acids are saturated with hydrogen. Examples: Lauric acid (12 C); Myristic acid (14 C); Arachidic acid (20 C); Stearic acid ( 18 C); Palmitic acid (16 C)

Saturated fatty acids are of two types

Essential fatty acids: Essential fatty acids are the fatty acids that the human body cannot produce but needs to be obtained from external sources like fish, flax seed and other plant oils.

Trans fatty acids: A trans fatty acid is an unsaturated fatty acid molecule that contains a trans double bond between carbon atoms. These bonds are produced during industrial hydrogenation of vegetable oils.

The long chain hydrocarbons can also be classified based on the length of the chain as short chain hydrocarbons, medium chain hydrocarbons, long chain hydrocarbons and very long chain hydrocarbons.

Conclusion for Straight Chain Hydrocarbons

Straight chain hydrocarbons are the hydrocarbons with a carboxylic group that are acyclic and aliphatic in nature. They can be saturated or unsaturated based on the presence of the double bond. There are natural as well as synthetic fatty acids.


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