The 5 Main Applications of Hydrocarbons

The main applications of hydrocarbons are given in transport, as fuel, and in industry. But they also have numerous uses in other fields.

In this way, we find these components in the plastics , insecticides and even cosmetics or soaps. We can say that they are the basis of the current economy.

The 5 Main Applications of Hydrocarbons

There are various types of hydrocarbons, depending on how the molecules formed by carbon and hydrogen atoms are organized.

Most of them originate in the Petroleum and need a later processing to be used is its different forms.

By their nature, they are considered a non-renewable and finite resource, without the possibility that man can manufacture it.

Main applications of hydrocarbons

The uses of hydrocarbons can be divided roughly between energy sources, such as gasoline or natural gas, and those destined for special products.

Liquid fuels

Fuels called fossils come from oil. We can define them as a class of hydrocarbons that come into combustion when heated in the presence of oxygen.

The most common today are the different types of gasoline, diesel and kerosene. They are also used for all industrial machinery and for electric generators.

Most of the vehicles work thanks to this type of fuel for what is, to this day, irreplaceable.

However, the pollution it causes and the forecast of its depletion, is giving rise to a possible substitute for medium term.

Natural gas

Natural gas is becoming increasingly important in many fields, from industrial to different uses in the home.

These gaseous hydrocarbons are extracted either from independent or other associated oil fields.

In the last years it is being used as fuel for transportation. There are vehicles that run on methane or propane, being more economical and less polluting than those that need gasoline or diesel.

As domestic applications it is used in heating and kitchens. For its part, it is widely used in the industry, from metallurgical to glassmaking.

Manufacturing of Plastics

Another of the uses that is given to hydrocarbons is the manufacture of plastics. For this they need a processing that takes place in the petrochemical industry.

Plastics are one of the most present materials in everyday life, due to their resistance and the possibility of giving them many forms.

There are three different classes, depending on their chemical structure and the way they have been manufactured: thermosetting, thermoplastics and polyurethanes.

The most commonly used plastic is polyethylene, which can be found in products as common as bags, containers or pipes.

Soaps and Cosmetics

Although in principle we do not associate hydrocarbons with this type of articles, the truth is that almost all creams, soaps or cosmetic products carry them among its ingredients.

The most common compounds are the same oil and mineral oil. Both are widely used in moisturizers or lotions, since they give a feeling of softness.

However, the use of these materials in beauty or cleaning articles may have little future. Research by various agencies has warned of possible negative health effects.

The World Health Organization itself recommends not using these components as they may be carcinogenic.

Insecticides and pesticides

Hydrocarbons are one of the compounds most present in the different types of insecticides and pesticides.

Its use goes back to the 40's of last century. It was then that they began to use the chlorinated ones to try to eradicate the different plagues that ravaged the harvests.

Thus products such as DDT or dieldrin have been shown to be highly effective in this field. Later, new research greatly expanded the number of compounds.

In recent years, however, attempts are being made to eliminate their use, as they cause great environmental damage and can be harmful to the health of consumers.


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