From WikiMD's Food, Medicine & Wellness Encyclopedia

2-Butene is an organic compound with the formula C4H8. It is a colorless flammable gas that is part of the alkene family, compounds that contain a carbon-carbon double bond. 2-Butene exists as two geometric isomers, cis-2-butene and trans-2-butene. These isomers differ in the spatial orientation of their constituent atoms, which significantly influences their physical and chemical properties.

Structure and Isomerism[edit | edit source]

2-Butene's molecular structure consists of four carbon atoms connected in a chain, with a double bond between the second and third carbon atoms. This double bond is the defining feature of alkenes and is responsible for many of their reactions. The presence of the double bond allows for the existence of two distinct geometric isomers:

  • cis-2-butene where the two methyl groups (CH3) are on the same side of the double bond,
  • trans-2-butene where the two methyl groups are on opposite sides of the double bond.

The cis and trans designations are examples of stereochemistry, a branch of chemistry that studies the spatial arrangement of atoms in molecules.

Physical Properties[edit | edit source]

The physical properties of cis-2-butene and trans-2-butene differ due to their different shapes. Trans-2-butene has a more symmetrical structure, leading to a higher melting point and lower boiling point compared to cis-2-butene. Both isomers are colorless gases at room temperature and have a slight, characteristic odor.

Chemical Properties[edit | edit source]

2-Butene is reactive due to its double bond, participating in a variety of chemical reactions typical of alkenes. These include:

  • Addition reactions, where molecules add across the double bond,
  • Polymerization, where multiple molecules of 2-butene can link together to form long chains, a process used in the production of synthetic rubbers and plastics,
  • Hydrogenation, where hydrogen is added across the double bond, converting 2-butene into butane.

Production and Uses[edit | edit source]

2-Butene is produced through the cracking of hydrocarbons found in natural gas and petroleum. It is an important intermediate in the petrochemical industry, used in the synthesis of various chemicals and polymers. For example, it can be used to produce butadiene, a key monomer in the production of synthetic rubber, or it can be further processed to produce high-octane fuels.

Safety and Environmental Impact[edit | edit source]

As with many hydrocarbons, 2-butene poses risks of flammability and explosion under certain conditions. It is also a volatile organic compound (VOC), contributing to air pollution and the formation of ground-level ozone. Proper handling and regulatory compliance are essential to mitigate these risks.

See Also[edit | edit source]


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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD