Hydrogen carbons can be broadly categorized into four types: saturated, unsaturated, cycloakanes and aromatic hydrocarbons. Saturated hydrocarbons are made of single covalent bonds between carbon atoms while unsaturated hydrocarbons have one or more double or triple bonds shared between the adjacent carbon atoms. Cycloalkanes refer to hydrocarbons that contain one or more carbon rings while aromatic hydrocarbons are compounds with alternative single and double bonds between carbon rings
Saturated hydrocarbons are also known as alkanes or paraffins. They are either found as branched or linear specie and form the basis of most petroleum fuels. An example of this type of hydrocarbon is methane, which is also the most basic type of alkane. Other examples include butane, pentane and propane. Saturated hydrocarbons have the general formula CnH2n+2.
Unsaturated hydrocarbons can either be alkenes or alkynes. Alkenes refer to compounds with at least one carbon-to-carbon double bond, while alkynes have a minimum of one carbon-to-carbon triple bond. Unsaturated hydrocarbons may also come with both double and triple bonds. In such instances, the compound is named with a prefix preceding the suffix ene or yne depending on the position of the bond, for instance 2 4-pentadiene. Unsaturated hydrocarbons are highly reactive with water, hydrogen halides, alcohols, and elemental halogens. Alkynes are, however, more reactive than alkenes.