Structure of Acetylene - The Triple Bonds

Acetylene Structure

Since the arrival of quantum mechanical theories, we have been able to learn about the different molecular structures in the environment efficiently. By combining the methods of quantum mechanics with the approaches of chemical reaction, we have uncovered various great deal new things about compounds on this planet (inorganic and organic compounds). Although there are several compounds, we will today focus on alkynes, one of the organic ones in nature. This group of chemical compounds are known for the presence of a triple bond between their carbon atoms in their structure. In other words, the alkyne structure is an unsaturated hydrocarbon with a minimum of one carbon triple bond. Let us begin by studying the very first and straightforward alkyne known as acetylene. We will go on to learn about acetylene structure, acetylene formula and many new exciting things about this compound.


Triple Bond

Before understanding the acetylene structure and acetylene formula, we must have knowledge regarding triple bonds between atoms. Generally, two atoms are bonded together in three types of bonds. These can be classified into a triple, double, and single bond based on strength. Triple bond being the strongest amongst the three. Because this bonding takes place between eight electrons when compared to two atoms in the single bond and four electrons in the double bond. The triple bond is most common between the carbon-carbon bond in alkynes and other compounds such as isocyanides and cyanides. Other than that some molecules such as carbon monoxide and dinitrogen also have a triple bond between their atoms. Now we are ready to study the acetylene structure and acetylene formula or acetylene structural formula(ethyne structural formula).


Structure of Acetylene

Acetylene is also commonly known as ethyne.  It is the simplest form of alkynes and a type of hydrocarbon. The appearance of its gaseous form is colourless and is used as building blocks for several chemical compounds. We can not use this chemical in its pure form due to stability issues and hence always use it as a solution. Also, they are mainly in use for making commercial products by combining them with different chemicals. So these impurities give it an odour; otherwise, it does not have one. Due to the presence of carbon-carbon triple bond, it is an unsaturated alkyne. So what is the formula of acetylene?  Let us look at the ethyne structural formula of acetylene gas formula.


Acetylene Formula (Molecular Formula of Ethyne) and its Preparation

The molecular formula of ethyne or acetylene chemical formula is given as C2H2 . You can see the acetylene structural formula in the diagram given below. Here, we can notice the presence of hybridization of triple bonds of carbon in ethyne. The presence of two hybrid sp orbitals directly overlapping each other between the sigma bond of C is the reason for this hybridization. Similarly, 1s orbitals of hydrogen atoms overlap towards the internuclear axis leading to the formation of carbon - hydrogen sigma bonds and two other pi bonds. These two pi bonds are formed due to carbon having one p orbital and rest two p orbitals have single electrons.  The presence of a sigma bond strengthens the triple bond. As we can see in the figure, the distance between the carbon-carbon bond is 120.3pm and between carbon-hydrogen bonds is 106.0pm.


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The preparation of acetylene composition in the 19th-century was achieved by combustion of methane. It comes out as a byproduct in the development of ethylene by breaking down hydrocarbons. However, this method is not suitable due to the presence of its poison properties and explosive character. Ethyne(ethyne structural formula was the primary source of organic chemicals at that time.


What are the Applications of Acetylene Structure? 

At present, the applications of acetylene(acetylene chemical formula) cover a wide range of industries. Let us discuss the few of the major ones. 

  • One of the main applications of acetylene is in the welding industry. The gas industry produces a significant portion of ethyne(reaction to create ethyne structural formula) for the cutting and gas welding requirements. Oxyacetylene generates a ton of flames at high temperatures after combustion that makes it suitable for this industry. It is undeniable that oxyacetylene is a standard gas fuel (hottest burning) with third place in natural chemical flame. 

  • Tradition lighting systems utilized acetylene for portable lights and various remote applications. Even to this day, few mining companies use this compound although it is not considered safe to use in the mines. 

  • It is also used in the production of various polyethene plastics and acrylic acid derivatives such as glasses, paints, polymers, and acrylic fibres. 

  • Ethyne was often used in the production of organic semiconductors, and also it was one of the very first found semiconductors.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Where does Acetylene Occur in Nature?

The carbon-carbon triple bond in the acetylene chemical formula is rich in energy. Also, acetylene has a very high solubility in water. These conditions make it a suitable home for various kinds of bacteria. Several findings of different bacterias on acetylene have been recorded. These enzymes help catalyze in the reaction of acetylene and water(hydration) to produce acetaldehyde. The long chains of hydrocarbons decompose at high temperatures to make a significant natural source of ethyne. Aside from that, it is available on various gaseous planets in the universe such as moons of Saturn.

2. Is it Safe to Use Acetylene?

Although it is generally considered non-toxic and safe to use, various preparation processes can leave a toxic residue. For instance, in the calcium carbide reaction, it may contain various impurities of arsine and phosphine. The substance is highly flammable, so it is advised to take precautions, especially in case of welding. They are also used as compressed gas in the cylinders which are prone to reactions during fire or leakage, creating a hazardous situation.