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Ethane: Structure, Uses & Formula

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  • 0:00 What Is Ethane?
  • 0:59 Uses
  • 2:35 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Nissa Garcia

Nissa has a masters degree in chemistry and has taught high school science and college level chemistry.

Some of us use natural gas in our homes as fuel. Did you know that ethane is one of the components of natural gas? Ethane has many other uses as well. In this lesson, we will learn more about the formula, structure, and various uses of ethane.

What Is Ethane?

Many homes nowadays make use of natural gas as fuel for warming up our homes and for cooking. There are actually several gases present in natural gas, and ethane has the second largest percentage in natural gas. Ethane is a colorless, odorless, and flammable gas with a chemical formula of C2H6; it has two carbon (C) atoms and six hydrogen (H) atoms. It's only composed of carbon and hydrogen atoms, so it is classified as a hydrocarbon. Its chemical structure is shown in the following illustration.

By looking at its chemical structure, the two carbon atoms are bonded together and there are three hydrogen atoms attached to each carbon atom. All of the bonds that we see here are single bonds. For this reason, ethane is classified as an alkane. An alkane is a chemical compound that consists of hydrogen and carbon atoms and is only made of single bonds.

Uses

Besides being used as a component in natural gas, ethane has many other uses in different industries. Let's learn more about the various uses of ethane.

Production of Ethylene

One of the uses of ethane is to produce ethylene. Why is ethylene important? Ethylene is a necessary chemical in many industrial applications. For example, it is needed in the production of many commercial products we normally use, like plastic products, automotive antifreeze, and detergents.

Refrigerant

Refrigeration systems are necessary in different applications. For example, it is necessary in the frozen food business, as well as in cryogenics, which is the study of materials at very low temperatures. In refrigeration systems, a refrigerant is needed. A refrigerant is the substance that is used in refrigeration systems that causes cooling. Ethane is also used as a refrigerant in very low refrigeration systems.

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