Carbon and its Compounds

Some Important Carbon Compounds

Carbon is a crucial element of our world. Everything that surrounds is probably a compound of carbon. Foods, fuels, textiles, drugs everything is either a compound of carbon or its substituent. So let us study about some important carbon compounds.

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What are Carbon Compounds?

Carbon compounds are compounds whose molecules contain a carbon atom. They are chemical substances where a carbon atom has bonded to an atom of another element. These compounds are generally organic in nature. However many students are under the false impression can if a molecule contains carbon it implies that it is organic in nature. This is incorrect. There are various inorganic carbon compounds as well like for example CO2 (carbon dioxide).

Now carbon compounds can be broadly divided into two categories :

Saturated Carbon Compounds

Carbon compounds that are satisfied by a single bond between them are saturated compounds. An example of this is Ethane which is C2H6. Here the duplet or octet of both the atoms is fully complete by only a single bond.

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Unsaturated Carbon Compound

Atoms that are satisfied only by double or triple bonds are unsaturated carbon compounds. Ethene C2H4 is an unsaturated carbon compound, it has a double bond.

Types of Carbon Compounds

Now let us take a look at the various types of Compounds

Organic Compounds

This is the biggest class of carbon compounds. An organic compound must contain carbon and hydrogen. The four major categories of organic compounds that are present in all living things are carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and nucleic acid.

Inorganic Carbon Compounds

It is not necessary that the presence of a carbon means the compound has to be classified as organic. Inorganic carbon compounds are rarer than organic compounds, but they do occur. They are mostly found in minerals and other natural sources, Some examples of inorganic compounds are carbon disulfide (CS2), Hydrogen Cyanide (HCN) and the most obvious one’s carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. A few of these inorganic carbon compounds are

  • Carbites: Binary compounds formed with the atoms of carbon and another element with an electronegativity lower than carbon. An example would be Titanium Carbide.
  • Carbonates: A carbonate is a salt of a carbonic acid. The most common one is Calcium Carbonate CaCO3
  • Cyanides: Chemical compound that contains the cyano group. It is a carbon atom triple-bonded to a nitrogen atom. An example would be Sodium Cyanide.

Organometallic Compounds

Compounds formed with a carbon-metal bond are known as organometallic compounds. They are ionic compounds and are very polar bonds due to the electropositive nature of metals.

Carbon Allotropes

Allotropes are all different physical forms of the same element. The atoms of the element are bonded differently and this gives them different physical and chemical properties. Like coal, graphite and diamond are all allotropes of the carbon atom.

Carbon Alloys

Pure metals are smelted, in which coke is used as a fuel and reducing agent. This leads to many alloys having an element of carbon in them. The carbon steel is one such example where iron is alloyed with carbon.

Alcohol Production: Ethanol

Ethanol Fermentation

(Source: Wikipedia)

All alcoholic beverages in the world are actually a form of carbon compounds. Alcoholic beverages are actually made by adding Ethanol. The process of fermentation is used to produce ethanol (alcohol) from glucose. One molecule of glucose gives ethanol and carbon dioxide as by-products. So alcohols actually contain carbohydrates.

Solved Example for You

Q: Alcoholic beverages contain which of the following?

  1. Glycerol
  2. Ethyl Alcohol
  3. Methyl Alcohol
  4. Isopropyl Alcohol

Sol: The correct answer is option “b”. Alcohol beverages contain ethyl alcohol (ethanol), Alcohol by volume is a standard measure of how much ethyl alcohol is contained in a given volume of an alcoholic beverage.

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