Atoms and Molecules

Olefin – Definition and Formula


An olefin belongs to a family of organic compounds which are hydrocarbons. Furthermore, they consist of different molecular combinations of carbon and hydrogen. Students can learn more information about olefin here.

Definition and Meaning of Olefin

Olefin refers to a compound which is made up of hydrogen and carbon. Furthermore, it contains one or more pairs of atoms of carbon. Moreover, these atoms are linked by a double bond. It is also known as an alkene. They are certainly good examples of unsaturated hydrocarbons.


The classification of hydrocarbons takes place in one or both of the following ways:

1. The first way is as cyclic or acyclic (aliphatic) olefins. Here the location of the double bond is between carbon atoms forming part of a cyclic or of an open-chain grouping, respectively.

2. This classification takes place as monoolefins, diolefins, triolefins, etc., in which the number of double bonds per molecule happens to be, one, two, three, or some other number respectively.

Properties and Formula of Olefin

The general formula of acyclic monoolefins is CnH2n. Furthermore, here C is a carbon atom. Also, H is a hydrogen atom and n is an integer. Most noteworthy, they are rare in nature. However, their formation can take place in large quantities. This is due to industrial processing.

One way of producing olefins was thermal cracking of the petroleum oils to gasoline. Other ways were hydrocracking and fluid catalytic cracking. From the 1970s, the production of linear alpha olefins took place through olefin metathesis and polymerization.

In olefin oligomerization, the growth of compounds is by combining lower-molecular-weight monoolefins. Furthermore, olefin metathesis involves the exchange of chemical substituents with the re-formation of double bonds taking place subsequently.

Acyclid diolefins are called as acyclic dialkeneses or acylic dienes. Furthermore, their general formula comes out to be CnH2n-2. Most noteworthy, they contain two double bonds.

Furthermore, they undergo reactions such that they are similar to the monoolefins. Moreover, the most popular dienes are isoprene and butadiene which are quite useful in synthetic rubber manufacturing.

There are olefins which contain two to four atoms of carbon per molecule. Furthermore, such olefins are gaseous at ordinary temperatures and pressure conditions.

Moreover, those olefins which contain five or more carbon atoms are almost always liquid at ordinary temperatures. Also, olefins are slightly soluble in water.

Uses of Olefin

Olefins certainly form naturally in numerous living things. According to Bruce Hathaway’s book, Organic Chemistry, the nutrient beta-carotene refers to a natural olefin in carrots.

It contains a chain of carbon atoms. Furthermore, these atoms are doubly and singly bonded together with a ring structure close to either end.

The simple olefin, ethylene, results in promoting the ripening of fruit. Above all, the largest commercial application of olefins is in the petroleum industry.

Furthermore, the petroleum industry makes use of olefins to make high-octane gasoline. In gasoline, olefins contribute to octane, which is quite beneficial.

In a refinery, olefins are an essential feedstock into the alkylation unit to create alkylate. Most noteworthy, They are most commonly used in the alkylation unit are propylene and butylene.

Solved Question For You

Q1 Which of the following statements is not true with regards to olefin?

A. Olefin which contains two to four atoms of carbon per molecule is liquid at ordinary temperature.
B. It refers to a compound which comprises of hydrogen and carbon
C. It belongs to a family of organic compounds which are hydrocarbons
D. It is a good example of unsaturated hydrocarbons.

A1 The correct option is A. This is because the olefin which contains two to four atoms of carbon per molecule is certainly gaseous at ordinary temperature.

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