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Organic compounds that are composed mostly of carbon and hydrogen atoms are called hydrocarbons (HC). Classification of compounds, both natural and synthetic, is on the basis of chemistry and molecular structure.

5.1.1 Classification HC compounds are commonly classified as aliphatic or aromatic (Figure 5.1). The aliphatics are subdivided as follows: Aliphatic Alkane (= paraffin = chain) Unbranched (= normal = n-paraffin = n-alkane) Branched Naphthene (= ring = cycloparaffin) Alkene Alkyne Alkanes are unbranched or branched chains of C atoms each surrounded by four other atoms, generally H and other C atoms. The general formula is (CnH2n+2). If the carbon atoms are all approximately in a "line", the structure is said to be unbranched or normal or n-paraffin or n-alkane If one or more carbon atoms are located at an angle to the main "line" of carbon atoms, the structure is said to be branched or isoparaffin.

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