Acetylene: Formula & Structure

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Acid Test Ratio: Formula & Example

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:00 Acetylene: Definition…
  • 1:17 Structure & Formula
  • 2:44 Historical Uses
  • 3:13 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Danielle Reid

Danielle has taught middle school science and has a doctorate degree in Environmental Health

Did you know welders use acetylene as a fuel gas in cutting torches? Learn more about this compound, including its formula, structure and historical uses in this lesson.

Acetylene: Definition and History

Did you know that acetylene can be used in plant cultivation? Yes, the chemical acetylene can help form new flowers. In 1836, the scientist Edmund Davy discovered it while he was experimenting with potassium carbide and producing a flammable gas. But it would take nearly 25 years before another scientist, Marcel Morren, learned how to generate acetylene while making an electronic arc in a hydrogen atmosphere.

Acetylene is a chemical compound composed of two carbon and two hydrogen atoms. It has a molecular weight of 26.04 g/mol and is slightly soluble in water. As a type of unsaturated hydrocarbon, acetylene is best known as the simplest of all alkynes. An unsaturated hydrocarbon is a molecule that has a double or triple bond between two carbon atoms. Alkyne is a functional group that contains carbon atoms joined together by a triple bond.

Acetylene is a colorless gas that has a very unique odor, similar to garlic. In its normal state, it can undergo a phase change from gas to liquid; but should you heat or allow liquid acetylene to come into contact with air, please be aware that it may explode.

Structure and Formula

The molecular formula of acetylene is quite easy to remember: C2H2. Its molecular structure is just as simple, as shown in this image:

Molecular Structure of Acetylene
molecular structure

Earlier we mentioned the functional group alkyne. Remember, what denotes acetylene as an alkyne is the presence of the triple carbon bond. Acetylene's triple bond is classified as a covalent bond, or one that forms when two atoms share electrons with one another. In relation to hybridization, this covalent bond contains one sigma and two pi bonds. Hybridization is the ability of atomic orbitals to form new atomic orbitals with one another. It not only influences the type of covalent bond being formed but also the properties of those bonds. Thus, the triple bonds in acetylene form from the overlap of the one sigma bond and two pi bonds.

What you're seeing below is the hybridized structure of acetylene:

Structure of Acetylene in Hybridized Form

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account