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Chemistry Keypoints: Organic Compounds

Chemistry Keypoints: Organic Compounds; Organic chemistry is a branch of chemistry that deals with the study of compounds primarily composed of carbon and hydrogen, along with other elements such as oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur, and halogens.

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The unique versatility of carbon’s bonding capabilities allows it to form a vast array of organic compounds. In this article, we will explore various classes of organic compounds, their nomenclature, structures, and properties.

Chemistry Keypoints: Organic Compounds

We will also delve into the determination of empirical formulas, isomerism, and the practical applications of these compounds.

Aliphatic Hydrocarbons

(a) Alkanes:

Alkanes are saturated hydrocarbons with the general formula CnH2n+2. They form a homologous series with physical properties that vary predictably with increasing carbon atoms. Alkanes undergo substitution reactions, such as halogenation, where hydrogen atoms are replaced by halogen atoms (e.g., chlorination of methane).

Isomerism in alkanes is limited to structural isomerism, where different arrangements of carbon atoms give rise to compounds with the same molecular formula but different structures. An example is butane (C4H10) having two isomers: n-butane and isobutane.

Petroleum, a complex mixture of hydrocarbons, is subjected to fractional distillation to obtain various fractions with different boiling points. Cracking and reforming processes further refine these fractions into valuable products. Petrochemicals derived from petroleum serve as starting materials for various organic syntheses. The octane number measures the quality of petrol, indicating its resistance to knocking in internal combustion engines.

(ii) Alkenes:

Alkenes are unsaturated hydrocarbons with the general formula CnH2n. They exhibit structural and geometric (cis-trans) isomerism. Alkenes undergo addition reactions, such as hydrogenation, where double bonds are converted into single bonds. Polymerization of alkenes produces useful materials like polythene and synthetic rubber, which can be vulcanized for enhanced properties.

(iii) Alkynes:

Alkynes have the general formula CnH2n-2 and contain triple bonds between carbon atoms. Ethyne (C2H2), commonly known as acetylene, is produced from carbides through the action of water. Ethyne is highly reactive and participates in various chemical reactions.

(b) Aromatic Hydrocarbons:

Benzene is a well-known aromatic hydrocarbon with a unique hexagonal ring structure. It exhibits resonance, making its bonds partially double and partially single, resulting in exceptional stability. Benzene finds applications in the production of various chemicals and plastics.

(c) Alkanols:

Alkanols, also known as alcohols, have the general formula CnH2n+1OH. They are classified as primary, secondary, or tertiary based on the number of carbon atoms attached to the carbon bearing the hydroxyl group (OH). Ethanol, produced through fermentation or from petroleum by-products, is an example of a primary alkanol. Lucas test, involving the reaction of alkanols with concentrated hydrochloric acid, distinguishes primary, secondary, and tertiary alkanols.

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(d) Alkanals and Alkanones:

Alkanals (aldehydes) and alkanones (ketones) are carbonyl compounds. Chemical tests, such as the Tollens’ and Fehling’s tests, can distinguish between them. Alkanals have a carbonyl group at the end of a carbon chain, while alkanones have it within the chain.

(e) Alkanoic Acids:

Alkanoic acids, also known as carboxylic acids, have the general formula CnH2n+1COOH. They participate in various chemical reactions, including neutralization and esterification. Ethanedioic (oxalic) acid serves as an example of a dicarboxylic acid, while benzene carboxylic acid exemplifies an aromatic carboxylic acid.

(f) Alkanoates:

Alkanoates are derived from alkanoic acids and alkanols. Fats and oils are examples of alkanoates. Saponification is the process used to produce soap and margarine from alkanoates. Detergents, distinct from soaps, have specific properties that make them suitable for various cleaning purposes.

(g) Amines (Alkanamines):

Amines are organic compounds containing nitrogen. They are classified as primary, secondary, or tertiary based on the number of alkyl or aryl groups attached to the nitrogen atom.

(h) Carbohydrates:

Carbohydrates are classified into mono-, di-, and polysaccharides based on the number of sugar units they contain. They serve as essential energy sources and structural components in living organisms. Chemical tests can identify simple sugars, and concentrated sulfuric acid can be used for dehydration reactions.

(i) Proteins:

Proteins are biomolecules composed of amino acid chains with distinct primary structures. Hydrolysis of proteins breaks them down into individual amino acids. Various chemical tests, such as Ninhydrin, Biuret, Millon’s, and xanthoproteic tests, can identify proteins. Enzymes are specialized proteins that play crucial roles in biological processes.

(j) Polymers:

Polymers can be natural or synthetic and are composed of repeated monomer units. Rubber, both natural and synthetic, serves as an example. Polymers can be formed through addition or condensation polymerization processes, leading to various products with diverse uses. Thermoplastic and thermosetting plastics have distinct properties and applications.


Organic compounds are diverse and essential to various aspects of daily life, from fuels and materials to pharmaceuticals and biochemical processes. Understanding their nomenclature, structures, properties, and applications is fundamental in the field of chemistry. This article has provided an in-depth overview of organic compounds, their classification, and their significance in the world of science and industry.

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