Carbon chemistry involves many different homologous series of compounds.
A homologous series is a family of hydrocarbons with similar chemical properties who share the same general formula.
|Series||General formula||Functional group|
|Alkanes||CnH2n+2||No functional group. Molecules end with CH3|
|Cycloalkanes||CnH2n||No specific functional group. Ring of single C-C bonds|
Those with only carbon-carbon single bonds are saturated.
If a compound contains at least one carbon-carbon double bond it is unsaturated and can undergo addition reactions.
For example, alkenes can undergo addition reactions with hydrogen to become the corresponding alkanes.
Addition of bromine solution allows saturated and unsaturated compounds to be distinguished. Unsaturated compounds will decolourise bromine solution quickly, whereas it will remain a brown colour with saturated compounds. This is due to the bromine-bromine bond breaking and adding to the double bonds of unsaturated compounds.
Alkenes are more reactive than alkanes and cycloalkanes because they have a double bond.
In an addition reaction, the double bond of the alkene partially breaks when the reactant molecule attacks and adds on across it.
Addition of bromine water can be used as a test for unsaturation.
Alkenes quickly turn bromine water from red/brown to colourless, while alkanes and cycloalkanes do not.
The experiment shown below is an example of how to distinguish between alkanes and alkenes by adding bromine water.
The addition of bromine to an alkene is called bromination.