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Sue Min Joh's picture



Ethane, otherwise known as C2H6, is an organic compound which is a colourless, liquefied gas. It provides many uses including those from the industrial and a consumer point of view. Ethane is used in fuel, fuel additives, ion exchange systems, paint additives, pigments, plasticizers, building/construction materials, fabric products, textile products, leather products, food packaging and much more. 


Ethane was first synthesised in 1834 when Michael Faraday applied electrolysis on a potassium acetate solution. He thought that the reaction created methane but was in fact a hydrocarbon product and he did not investigate any further. A few years later, Herman Kolbe and Edward Frankland produced ethane while attempting to vindicate the radical theory of organic chemistry. They too mistook the product for methyl radical however this error was corrected in 1864 by Carl Schorlemmer who demonstrated that the product of these reactions was actually ethane. The name ethane is derived from the ICPAC nomenclature of organic chemistry. “Eth-“ is derived from Germany for portable alcohol (ethanol) and “ane-“ refers to the presence of a single bond between the carbon atoms.

As mentioned above, ethane is known to be a colourless, odourless gas. It is easily ignited in room temperature and can cause unconsciousness or death by asphyxiation if contained in a poorly ventilated area where the gas can accumulate. Ethane in a liquid form, can cause frostbite-like injuries if it comes in contact with skin. Its molecular weight is 30.06904 g/mol while its boiling point is -88.6°C and its melting point is -182.794°C. During combustion, ethane releases 51.9Kj/g of heat and produces carbon monoxide. Combustion occurs when a complex series of free radical reactions occur. One of the most important series of reactions includes the combination of an ethyl radical with oxygen. This results in the break-up of the resulting peroxide into ethoxy and hydroxyl radicals. Ethane is made up of two carbon atoms and six hydrogen atoms. The two carbon atoms are bonded together and there are three hydrogen atoms attached to each carbon atom. They are bonded by a single bond as ethane is an alkane compound. Carbon atoms are made up of 6 protons and electrons and 6 neutrons. It has an atomic number of 6 and its name comes from the word “carbo” which means coal in Latin. Hydrogen is an atom containing one proton and no neutrons. It has an atomic number of one and its name means “water former” in Greek.

Using VRMaths2.0 was quite challenging as I could not get used to the different commands however with help from the hand book and my peers, I could successfully create a model of the molecule ethane. Although the model is not 100% correct due to the difficulty in calculating the sizes, it clearly shows the two carbon atoms joined with a single bond with three hydrogen atom attached to each molecule. Some questions I still have includes: If ethane does harm humans, then is there medicine that will decrease the affects post exposure? How is ethane contained if it does get released into a poorly ventilated area?

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dkham0's picture


Well-written. Cld have used in-text ref