In general organic molecules are incredibly valuable.
Thousands of compounds from illicit drugs, to pharmaceuticals, to plastics, to food additives are all composed of molocules based on carbon chain structures.
Many of these molecules can be harvested from natural sources but the possibility exists to manufacture just about any carbon chain molecule by carefully combining basic chemical reagents with hydrocarbon feed stock such as alkanes, alkenes and alcohols.
Entire libraries have been published on topics related to organic chemistry, however within the scope of this web site, we can explain a few of the ways that chemists manipulate the hydrocarbon "mechano-set" in order to produce valuable compounds for a wide variety of purposes.
- Fractional Distillation: Separating out the useful components from crude oil;
- Hydrocarbon Cracking: Breaking the low value, long chained alkanes found in bitumen, into more shorter chained and more valuable alkanes and alkenes;
- Reactions of Alkanes: two important reaction types for alkanes are halogenation and combustion.
- Reactions of Alkenes: addition reactions allow for the 'addition' of functional groups across the carbon-carbon double bond. This also allows for the creation of cross links between monomers in order to create polymers.
- Reactions of Alkyl Halides: their preparation and use in the synthesis of amines.
- Reactions of Alcohols: alcohols make an excellent starting reagent for the synthesis of alkenes, alkyl halides, carboxilic acids and esters.
- Reactions of Carboxilic Acids: provide the starting reagent for the synthesisis of amides and esters.