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See also: Alkane


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From German Alkan, formed as alkyl +‎ -ane.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈæl.keɪn/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -eɪn


alkane (plural alkanes)

  1. (organic chemistry) Any acyclic saturated hydrocarbon (methane, ethane, etc.).
    The carbon chain of an alkane may be linear or branched, but must not contain loops (cycles); its chemical formula is of the form CnH2n+2.
    • 1997, T. J. Savage, M. K. Hristova, R. Croteau, Biochemistry of Short-Chain Alkanes: Evidence for an Elongation/Reduction/C1-Elimination Pathway, John Peter Williams, Mobashsher Uddin Khan, Nora Wan Lem (editors), Physiology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology of Plant Lipids, Kluwer Academic Publishers, page 51,
      Whereas production levels of short-chain alkanes in plants are insufficient to provide an economically viable fuel source, the genes encoding the alkane biosynthetic pathway may provide a biotechnological resource for engineering fermentation organisms with the capacity to convert biomass to an alkane-based fuel.
    • 2007, Alasdair H. Neilson, Ann-Sofie Allard, Environmental Degradation and Transformation of Organic Chemicals, Taylor & Francis (CRC Press), page 103,
      The oxidation of the simplest alkane methanol is carried out by methylotrophs that may be obligate or facultative.
    • 2012, Chulsung Bae, Chapter 3: Catalytic Carbon-Boron Bond Formation via Activation of Alkane C-H Bonds, Pedro J. Pérez, Alkane C-H Activation by Single-Site Metal Catalysis, Springer, page 73,
      Alkanes are extremely unreactive toward nucleophiles and electrophiles because they are composed of nonpolar, strong, saturated C–H and C-C bonds.

Usage notes[edit]

  • The term paraffin is a historical synonym, but also has other meanings.
  • The term cycloalkane is used for saturated hydrocarbons that contain cycles.
  • The suffix -ane denotes an alkane, but note that it has a different use in inorganic chemistry.
  • As defined by IUPAC, the names methane, ethane, propane, butane, etc., refer specifically to the linear forms. From butane onwards, there also exist branched forms (isomers), which are named using structural nomenclature. (For instance, butane has two isomeric forms: butane itself and another called 2-methylpropane or isobutane).
  • Do not confuse with alkene.


  • (acyclic saturated hydrocarbon): paraffin



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Further reading[edit]




  1. Potential present connegative form of alkaa.