Propane is an example of a hydrocarbon. Here are four different ways chemists use to show a molecule of propane. In the colored molecule models, carbon is light gray and hydrogen is white.
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Windows to the Universe original artwork by Randy Russell.
There is a group of chemicals called hydrocarbons. The molecules
of hydrocarbons are made of hydrogen and carbon atoms.
Most kinds of fuel have hydrocarbons in them. Hydrocarbons store energy. Coal,
oil, and natural gas all have hydrocarbons in them.
When we burn fuels with
hydrocarbons, we make carbon
dioxide (CO2) gas. The carbon dioxide goes into the air. Sometimes
the burning makes carbon
monoxide (CO), too.
Some hydrocarbons help make air
pollution. Some of them are part of chemicals called Volatile
Organic Compounds (VOCs). VOCs are some of the chemicals in smog.
Here are some of the hydrocarbons that you may have heard of: methane
(CH4), butane (C4H10), propane (C3H8),
benzene (C6H6), ethane (C2H6), and
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