MadSci Network: Chemistry

Re: Can you treat the combustion of an alkane as a redox reaction?

Date: Thu Feb 24 14:08:44 2005
Posted By: Leslie Allen, Staff, Laboratory Chemist, Valero Refining Company
Area of science: Chemistry
ID: 1108136388.Ch

Oxidation and Reduction is nn important part of the task of electron book-keeping. 

Oxidation, [O], and reduction, [R], are opposites and both must occur 
simultaneously, hence redox reactions. Organic chemists will normally describe a
reaction as either oxidation or reduction depending on the fate of the major
organic component. 

 more C-O bonds (or other atoms more electronegative than C) 
 less C-H bonds 
 loss of electrons 
 increased oxidation state, e.g. +1 to +3 (see below) 

 more C-H bonds 
 less C-O bonds (or other atoms more electronegative than C) 
 gain of electrons 
 decreased oxidation state, e.g. +1 to -1 (see below) 

Calculating Oxidation Number or State (there are several methods for doing 
this, pick the one that works for you !) 

This allows for a more formal, quantitative decription of the oxidation 
state for the C atoms and is based on looking at what atoms are attached 
to the C atom in question. The algebraic sum of the oxidation states must 
equal the charge of the molecule. 

 for attached C atoms, i.e. C-C bonds electrons shared, count 0 
 for attached X atoms, i.e. C-X bonds (X more electronegative), count -1 
(per bond) 
 for attached H atoms, i.e. C-H bonds (H is less electronegative than C),  
count +1 
 Add the total for atoms attached to the C in question, then switch the 

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