Butane Formula

What is the Chemical Formula for Butane?

Butane or n-butane is a simple alkane consisting of a chain of four carbon atoms. The butane formula is given according to the nomenclature rules for alkanes. Hence, the molecular formula for butane is given as C\[_{4}\]H\[_{10}\]. From this, the condensed formula of butane representing the appearance of the molecules in order is given as CH\[_{3}\]CH\[_{2}\]CH\[_{2}\]CH\[_{3}\]. It is a simple aliphatic chain carbon compound with the preferred IUPAC name as butane. The molar mass that can be easily calculated using the butane formula is 59.124 g/mol. It exists as a colourless gas and is one of the components obtained from liquified petroleum gases. It is highly flammable and quickly vaporizes at room temperature. 


Properties of Butane

Butane structural formula is given below. 

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From the given butane structural formula, you can count the number of carbon and hydrogen atoms and it is easily visible that it is a simple compound with molecular formula for butane or the butane chemical formula as C\[_{4}\]H\[_{10}\] and the structural formula being a simple straight aliphatic carbon chain. 


There are two forms of butane structure that are generally found. One butane structure is the normal butane or n-butane as commonly known, which is described above. The other butane structure is the isomer of butane is the isobutane or isobutane. This compound is also known as methyl propane, with a methyl group attached to the central carbon atom of a three carbon propane molecule. Hence, the structural formula of isobutane is simply a positional isomer of the normal butane structural formula. Butane was first discovered in 1849 by Edward Frankland and by Edmund Ronalds in 1864 who was also the first one to describe the properties of butane. 


Like most simple hydrocarbons, butane burns in presence of plentiful oxygen to produce carbon dioxide and water vapour. In the presence of limited amounts of oxygen, it forms carbon monoxide or carbon soot and water vapour. Due to this reason, butane gas is also referred to as, “bastard gas”. Like all the hydrocarbons, normal butane undergoes chlorination reactions and produces both 1 - chloro and 2 - chlorobutane. It can also undergo free-radical chlorination reactions to provide more highly chlorinated derivatives. Also, one of the physical properties of butane is that it is denser than air.

 

Uses of Butane

Normal butane is obtained as a component of natural gas. Hence, it is used for gasoline blending, as a fuel gas, fragrance extraction solvent either alone or as a mixture with normal propane. It is used as a feedstock for the production of ethylene and butadiene, which is a key ingredient in the further manufacture of synthetic rubber. Isobutane is used in the refineries to increase the octane number of motor gasoline products. It is one of the main constituents of LPG or liquified petroleum gas, along with propane and other hydrocarbons, that has found to have increased utilization because of pollution control. As mentioned earlier it is used as a petroleum component, as a base for the production of petrochemicals in steam cracking, as a fuel for cigarette lighters, and as a propellant in aerosol sprays like deodorants. 


The use of butanes has also increased as refrigerants in place of ozone layer depleting halomethanes and can be found as common refrigerant gas in new models of refrigerators and freezers. For this purpose, very pure forms of butanes are to be used. It is also used as lighter fuel, or in butane torch, and can be obtained in the solid bottled form to use as a fuel for cooking especially in barbeque and camping stoves. 


It is also used in the common household gas cylinders as well. It is added and mixed often in small quantities of hydrogen sulfide and mercaptans that give the unburned gas a smell that is easily recognizable and detectable by a human nose to determine gas leaks. But they also carry the risk of explosion if the gas leak goes unnoticed as butane being highly flammable can be easily ignited by a spark or a flame. 


There are certain medical conditions that can arise due to exposure to butane. For example, inhalation of the gas can lead to euphoria, drowsiness, unconsciousness, asphyxia, blood pressure fluctuations, and in certain cases short-term memory loss when inhaled directly from a highly pressurized gas container. Sudden Sniffer's death is one of the extreme conditions and fatal cases that was recognized in 1970s to have been caused by butane. 

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is the Formula of Butane?

Ans: Butane is a colourless gas that can be easily liquified. It is an alkane and consists of four aliphatic carbon atoms in a chain. The chemical formula of butane is C4H10. It is highly flammable and can quickly vapourize at room temperatures. 

2. Is Butane a Liquid or a Gas?

Ans: Butane is a colourless gas and has fair petroleum-like odour. At normal temperature and pressure, it exists as a gas. It is shipped as a liquified gas and is one of the main components of the petroleum industry.