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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 8 Issue 1 (2003) pp 13-14

An Equation for Degrees of Unsaturation

Ray A. Gross, Jr.

Department of Physical Sciences, Prince George’s Community College, Largo, MD 20774; rgross@pgcc.edu
Received December 8, 2002. Accepted December 23, 2002

Published online: 15 January 2003

Abstract. Starting with a generalized chemical formula of a hydrocarbon, a two-sided equation is derived that shows how the four variables that describe any hydrocarbon are related. For a given hydrocarbon, one side of the equation is the sum of p bonds and rings, and the other side is one more than the number of carbon atoms minus half of the hydrogen atoms. Both sides equal the degrees of unsaturation (DU) in the hydrocarbon. The derived equation is expanded to include heteroatoms, and the use of the two equations in sophomore organic chemistry structural and DU problems is exemplified.

Key Words:  In the Classroom; organic chemistry; bonding

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail: rgross@pgcc.edu)

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Issue date: February 1, 2003

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