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Compounds of carbon - Introduction, Important Compounds, Properties, Uses, Practice Problems and FAQ

Compounds of carbon - Introduction, Important Compounds, Properties, Uses, Practice Problems and FAQ

Do you know who is referred to as "The King of the Jungle"?

We all are aware that the Lion is "The King of the Jungle." Similarly, mango is delicious and is the king of fruits, and potato is the king of vegetables.

You guys must be wondering, "Why are we talking about these right now? What is the connection to chemistry?

There is a connection! Just like a lion, mango and potato, carbon is called “The King of the Elements”.

Carbon is the backbone of almost all biological molecules, and it has a wide range of applications. Carbon makes up about 18% of the human body since it acts as a building block for our bodies in the form of hydrocarbons. Carbon is found in our skin, cells, and hair. Carbohydrates, which give us energy, are also made of carbon and hydrogen atoms.

Therefore, understanding this critical element, its key compounds, characteristics, and applications is crucial.

Please enter alt text


Carbon - Introduction

Carbon is a naturally occurring element that is abundant in the Earth's crust. It has the atomic number 6 and is found in Group 14 of the Periodic Table. Carbon is the 4th most prevalent element in the universe and the 15th most plentiful element in the Earth's crust. It is a non-metallic element. The name ‘Carbon’ is derived from the Latin word ‘carbo’, meaning "coal" or "charcoal."

Because of its tetravalency, carbon possesses a unique self-linking property known as ‘catenation.’ Catenation transforms carbon into a range of organic compounds. The electronic configuration of carbon is 1s22s22p2.

Carbon - Catenation Property

Catenation is the self-linking of an element's atoms to create chains and rings. This term can be expanded to encompass the development of space lattices, such as two-dimensional catenation, and layers, such as three-dimensional catenation.

Everything is surrounded by carbon molecules in organic chemistry. It is one of the most crucial parts of all living things. Carbon has two stable isotopes: C-12 and C-13. One additional carbon isotope, C-14, follows these two. Carbon-14 is a radioisotope with a half-life of 5770 years and is used for radiocarbon dating.

  • The capacity of carbon to form lengthy carbon chains and rings is one of its most remarkable characteristics. Catenation is a characteristic of carbon.
  • One remarkable property is that only carbon possesses the ability to generate p-p bonds, which are merely double or triple bonds between carbon and other electronegative elements like oxygen and nitrogen.
  • Carbon possesses a variety of allotropic forms solely as a result of these two characteristics, namely catenation and the production of numerous bonds.
  • One carbon atom can link with four other carbon atoms in a structure known as a tetravalent bond, and this arrangement can be repeated indefinitely without affecting the bonds' stability.

Carbon - Important Compounds

Carbon can be found in a variety of compounds in which a significant number of carbon atoms are bonded in straight chains, branched chains, or closed rings. The catenation characteristic is responsible for a huge number of carbon compounds. Some of the important compounds of carbon are given below.

  • Oxides of carbon
  • Carbonic Acid, Carbonates and Bicarbonates
  • Gaseous Fuels
  • Carbides
  • Hydrocarbons

Let’s get to know each of the above in detail.

Oxides of Carbon

Carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide are two major oxides of carbon.

  1. Carbon Monoxide (CO): It can be found in trace concentrations in volcanic gases, chimney gases, internal combustion engine exhaust gases, and coal gas.


  • Oxalic acid is heated with strong sulphuric acid to produce a combination of CO and CO2. Sulphuric acid is a dehydrating substance. By passing the gaseous mixture through a caustic soda or caustic potash solution, CO2 is eliminated.

  • When formic acid is heated with concentrated H2SO4, only CO is produced.

  • Through the reduction of heavy metal oxides with carbon: CO is generated when heavy metal oxides are heated with carbon.



  • By the reduction of carbon dioxide: At high temperatures, CO2 can be decreased using carbon or zinc. When is CO2 run over red hot zinc, it produces a combination of CO and CO2.


When CO2 is run over red hot charcoal, the carbon dioxide is reduced to carbon monoxide, resulting in a combination of CO2 and CO. To remove CO2, the gaseous mixture is put through a NaOH or KOH solution.

Properties and Reactions:

  • It is an odourless and colourless gas.
  • It is water-soluble to some degree of extent.
  • Although it is a combustible gas, it does not burn.
  • It has a density that is roughly equivalent to that of air.
  • It has a high level of toxicity in nature. In a matter of minutes, one component per 100 parts of air causes death.
  • Litmus is unaffected by it.
  • CO2 is formed when it bums with a blue flame. It's an exothermic reaction.


  • It works well as a reducing agent because it absorbs oxygen and converts it to CO2. This feature is used to remove metals from their oxides.




  • It also reduces Fehling's solution into copper oxide.



  • In the form of water gas (CO+H2) and producer gas (CO+N2), it is utilised as a fuel.
  • Methanol, synthetic fuel, formic acid, and phosgene gas are all made from CO (a highly poisonous gas).
  • It is utilised in the extraction of iron as a reducing agent.
  • It is utilised in Mond's procedure for nickel extraction.
  1. Carbon Dioxide (CO2): It is found in the atmosphere at concentrations ranging from 0.03 to 0.05 per cent. It enters the atmosphere as a result of animal respiration, the breakdown of plant matter, the combustion of carbon and carbonous materials, and so on. Plants use it for photosynthesis as well. As a result, nature has a carbon dioxide cycle in place, and the proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere remains relatively constant. It can be found in the combined state as carbonates.


  • Carbon is completely burned in an open environment with plenty of oxygen.


If CO is produced, it produces carbon dioxide in the form of a faint blue flame.



  • Mineral acids react with carbonates and bicarbonates and release carbon dioxide as a result of their activity.




  • By heating carbonates and bicarbonates: On heating, the carbonates of less electropositive metals decompose, releasing carbon dioxide.



Bicarbonates of all metals decompose when heated, releasing CO2.



Properties and Reactions:

  • It is a tasteless, odourless, and colourless gas.
  • It is mildly soluble in water under normal pressure, but it has a considerable solubility at high pressures.
  • It has a higher density than air.
  • It can be quickly liquefied into a colourless mobile liquid under pressure. When CO2 under pressure is allowed to escape through a nozzle, it forms a white solid known as dry ice. Solid CO2 is a soft, white, snow-like substance that sublimes without leaving a trace. Under the brand name drikold, solid CO2 is used as a refrigerant.
  • It is used to convey perishable food products. It creates a chilly and inert environment that aids in the death of harmful microorganisms.




  • CO2 is a powerful oxidizer. Zinc, iron and carbon are oxidised when heated with carbon dioxide




  • It is used to make aerated water, for example.
  • Carbogen is a blend of oxygen and carbon dioxide (5-10 per cent). It is used to provide artificial respiration to pneumonia patients and CO poisoning sufferers.
  • It is used to make white lead and sodium carbonate, among other things (Solvay process).
  • Plants consume CO2 in the form of food.

  • In refrigeration, solid CO2 (dry ice) is employed. It is a better refrigerant than regular ice since it can produce extremely low temperatures and does not melt into liquid. To achieve a low temperature of -80°C to -100°C, a mixture of solid CO2 and ether is utilised.

Carbonic Acid, Carbonates and Bicarbonates

Carbon dioxide is a very acidic gas. The CO2 solution in water has a weak acidic character. This is thought to be caused by the production of carbonic acid.

CO2g+H2Og H2CO3aq

Carbonic acid has never been isolated in a free state and is only known in solution. Carbonic acid is a dibasic acid that generates two salts when one or both hydrogen atoms are replaced.

H2CO3aq H+aq+HCO3-aq

HCO3-aq H+aq+CO32-aq


The following processes are used to make metallic carbonates or bicarbonates.

  • By injecting CO2 into the base solution



  • By reacting basic oxides and CO2



Properties and reaction:

  • All carbonates, with the exception of alkali metal carbonates, are insoluble in water.
  • The bicarbonates are water-soluble. Alkali metal bicarbonates are known in solid-state, whereas alkaline earth metal bicarbonates are only known in solutions.
  • When heated carbon dioxide is released, all bicarbonates disintegrate. Except for alkali metal carbonates, the carbonate created can degrade further.



  • Except for Li2CO3, alkali metal carbonates do not decompose when heated.
  • All other carbonates disintegrate with the release of carbon dioxide when heated.





  • Acids degrade both carbonates and bicarbonates, resulting in the release of CO2 (effervescences).




Gaseous Fuels

Combustible compounds are referred to as fuels. They produce heat energy as a result of their combustion. There should be no unwanted products created during combustion. The existence of combustible substances in the fuels, such as carbon, carbon monoxide, carbonous matter, hydrogen, and others, is required for heat energy production. The following are the most frequent fuels:

  1. Producer Gas: Carbon monoxide and nitrogen make up the majority of producer gas. It is made from coal, coke, or charcoal that has been incompletely burned. The combustion takes place in a space with a limited supply of air.

Cs+O2gCO2g+97.7 kcal

2Cs+O2g2COg+59.4 kcal

Properties of Producer Gas:

  • Carbon dioxide is the primary result at first, but as it rises through the coal bed, it mixes with carbon to generate carbon monoxide if the temperature is above 1000°C. As a result, heat is generated during the cooking process.
  • Producer gas is toxic, heavier than air, and water-insoluble.
  • It does not have a lot of calories in it.
  • CO is absorbed and transformed into CO2 in the air, releasing heat energy. Because of the high concentration of nitrogen in it, it has a low calorific value. It is mostly utilised as a gaseous fuel in open-hearth furnaces for steel and glass production.
  • It is also used to heat coke ovens, which are used to make coal gas.
  1. Water Gas: CO and H2 make up the majority of water gas. Steam is blown through layers of incandescent (red hot) coal to create it. The optimal working temperature is between 1000 and 1400℃.

Cs+H2OaqCOg+ H2g-28 kcal

Properties of Water Gas:

  • The coal cools down after a while due to the endothermic nature of this reaction, and the creation of carbon dioxide begins at a low temperature.
  • The current of steam is replaced by a blast of air to verify this development. This raises the temperature of the coal, allowing steam to escape. Water-gas is made up of 40 volumes of CO, 50 volumes of H2 ,5 volumes of CO2 , and 4-5 volumes of nitrogen in general.
  • Water gas has a high calorific value. Carburetting, or adding gaseous hydrocarbons generated by breaking petroleum oils, increases the calorific value of water gas.

Uses of Water Gas:

  • Water gas is used as a fuel and for hydrogen production.
  • It is also utilised in the production of methyl alcohol and for lighting.
  • Water gas has a brief and hot flame, which makes it ideal for welding.
  1. Coal Gas: Hydrogen, methane, carbon monoxide, ethylene, acetylene, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and oxygen make up coal gas. It is an excellent gaseous fuel since it contains around 95% flammable gases.

Properties of Coal Gas:

  • Coal gas is made by destructive distilling coal at a temperature of around 1000°C.
  • Coal is burned to 1000-1100°C in massive fire clay retorts for this purpose.
  • The following are the by-products of decomposition.
  1. Coal gas
  2. Coke
  3. Coal tar
  4. Ammoniacal liquor.
  • The amount of coal gas produced per ton of bituminous coal is around 13000 cubic feet.

Uses of Coal Gas:

  • As a home fuel and in metallurgical activities.
  • In the creation of an inert environment for certain chemical reactions.
  • When metals and alloys are smelted.
  • As a solubilizer.
  • As a source of illumination.
  1. Natural Gas: Natural gas is a naturally occurring mixture of gaseous hydrocarbons that mostly consists of methane, with minor amounts of other higher alkanes. It is also known as fossil gas or simply gas. Deep under the earth's surface, natural gas is mostly derived from petroleum resources. In fact, because gases are lighter than oil, it happens right above the layer of crude oil. It is created using the same technique that produces petroleum. The remains of plants and animals that are buried beneath the soil are transformed into naturally occurring gas together with petroleum and coal by high temperatures and pressure.

Properties of Natural Gas:

  • Natural gas is found in petroleum-rich areas.
  • Methane makes up the majority of the gas.
  • The following is the approximate composition of a sample of natural gas.












Available percentage






The composition may differ from one location to the next. It has been discovered that natural gas from some places has a sufficient amount of helium.

Uses of Natural Gas:

  • Natural gas is mostly used as a fuel.
  • It is also used to make hydrogen, carbon black, and a variety of petrochemicals.


Carbides are carbon binary compounds with lower or nearly equal electronegativity elements. Carbides are divided into three categories based on their chemical bonds. Salt-like carbides, covalent carbides, and interstitial or alloy-like carbides are the three types. Carbides are made by combining the element or its oxide with carbon or hydrocarbon at extremely high temperatures.

Preparation of Carbides:

Bas+2Cs BaC2s



Types of Carbides:

  • Salt like Carbides: Metals from groups lA, IIA, and IlIA (excluding boron), coinage metals, zinc, cadmium, and several lanthanides all create saltlike carbides. Ionic carbides can be further categorised into the following kinds based on the nature of the hydrocarbon produced upon hydrolysis by water or dilute HCl.
  1. Acetylides: These are the ionic carbides that, when hydrolyzed, produce acetylene. These are named acetylides because they are acetylene derivatives. M2C2 type compounds are formed by alkali metals, copper, silver, and gold. MC2 carbides are formed by alkaline earth metals, zinc, and cadmium.
  1. Methanides: When these carbides are hydrolyzed, methane is produced. These are known as methanides and are considered derivatives of methane. Methanides includeAl4C3, Be2C, Mn3C, and others. C4-groups can be found in these.
  1. Allylides: When these carbides are hydrolyzed, they produce allylene (methyl acetylene). Mg2C3 is the lone example of this kind. It has C34- distinct groups in it.

  1. Mixed carbides: When these carbides are hydrolyzed, they produce a variety of hydrocarbons. This group includes iron carbides such as UC2 and ThC2.
  • Covalent Carbides: Silicon carborundum (SiC) and boron carbides (B4C and B13C2) are the only genuine covalent carbides. These materials are chemically inert and highly hard. These carbides are utilised as abrasives because of their hardness. In an electric arc furnace, silicon carbide is made by heating quartz or sand with an excess of coke.


  • Metallic or Interstitial Carbides: Small carbon atoms in the metal crystal lattices of these carbides occupy interstitial locations. There are two types of such hydrides, one is MC where M=Ti, Zr, Hf,V,Nb,Ta.Mo, W and M2C where M=V,Mo,W. These carbides are chemically inert, have a metallic lustre and have great electrical conductivity. These have exceptionally high melting points and are as hard as diamonds.

Uses of Carbides:

  • To make acetylene, calcium carbide is used.
  • Many organic compounds begin using acetylene as the starting ingredient.
  • It is also utilised to create an oxy-acetylene flame, which is used for welding.
  • SiC is utilised as an abrasive since it is a hard substance. Boron carbide is also utilised as abrasive and a radiation shield. It's employed in the construction of nuclear power plants.
  • High-temperature-resistant carbides are commonly employed in furnace lining.
  • Tungsten carbide, often known as WC, is utilised to make high-speed tools.


The only two types of atoms that make up all of an organic complex called a hydrocarbon are carbon and hydrogen. The majority of the time, hydrocarbons are colourless gases with hardly detectable odours. Alkanes, alkenes, alkynes, and aromatic hydrocarbons are the four subcategories that are typically used to classify hydrocarbons. These compounds might have relatively basic structures or relatively complicated ones. The study of hydrocarbons can shed light on other functional groups' chemical composition and behaviour. Liquefied petroleum gas, which is derived from hydrocarbons like propane and butane, is also employed as a source of fuel for commercial reasons (LPG). One of the most basic aromatic hydrocarbons, benzene, is used as the starting point for the creation of numerous synthetic medications.

Uses of Hydrocarbons:

  • Fuels made of hydrocarbons are commonly used. They are LPG (liquefied petroleum gas), and CNG, (Compressed natural gas).
  • They are employed in the production of polymers like polyethene and polystyrene, among others.
  • Organic substances are used as a beginning ingredient in the production of medicines and colours. They act as lubricating grease and oil.

Practice Problems

Q1. The most important component of gobar gas is

A. O3
B. CH4
C. SO2
D. NO2

Answer: B)

Solution: Biogas or gobar gas is a mixture of gases that can burn and produce heat energy and is emitted from sites where organic wastes (such as animal dung, human excreta, vegetable waste, leaves, etc.) decay without contact with air. Methane (CH4) is the primary component (60-70 per cent ). CO, H2, CO2,H2S, N2, and other gases are also present.

So, option B) is the correct answer.

Q2. What effect does MgSO4 have on carbonates and bicarbonates?

A. Carbonates form white precipitate and bicarbonates are soluble
B. Carbonates from grey precipitate and bicarbonates are soluble
C. Carbonates are soluble and bicarbonates form white precipitate
D. Carbonates are soluble and bicarbonates form grey precipitate

Answer: A)

Solution: MgSO4 is the reagent used to distinguish between carbonates and bicarbonates and to test them. In the presence of magnesium sulphate, soluble carbonates create an insoluble white precipitate.


In the presence of magnesium sulphate, bicarbonates do not form white precipitate. When such a solution is heated, however, a white precipitate forms.



So, option A) is the correct answer.

Q3. __________ is used by the firemen to extinguish the fire.

A. Water-gas
B. Carbon dioxide
C. Natural gas
D. Producer gas

Answer: B)

Solution: CO2 is used to put out fires. The manufacture of CO2 is the basis for the usage of conventional fire extinguishers. A soda acid fire extinguisher is made up of a concentrated sodium bicarbonate solution and a bottle of concentrated sulphuric acid. When the equipment is tipped upside down, the acid in the bottle runs out and reacts with sodium bicarbonate to form CO2 which helps in extinguishing fire.

So, option B) is the correct answer.

Q4. Coal gas is made by ___________ of coal at a temperature of around 1000°C.

A. destructive distillation
B. fractional distillation
C. simple distillation
D. steam distillation

Answer: A)

Solution: Coal gas is produced by distilling coal at a temperature of around 1000°C. Coal is burned to 1000-1100°C in massive fire-clay retorts for this purpose.

So, option A) is the correct answer.

Frequently Asked Questions - FAQ

Q1. Why is Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) labelled "green"?
Compressed natural gas (CNG) for use as fuel is a great substitute for standard fuel. Due to its intrinsic advantages for the environment, it is referred to as a "green fuel." It is cheaper, and better for the environment, landfills, and soil. Nationwide adoption of CNG is on the rise, particularly in commercial vehicles.

Q2. In nature, which oxide of carbon is poisonous?
Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas with no odour or flavour. Breathing it in can make you sick, and if you're exposed to high levels, it can kill you. In England and Wales, roughly 60 people die each year as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Q3. Is it possible to generate electricity from coal?
 Coal is used to generate electricity all around the world. Coal-fired power plants currently generate 37% of global electricity, and according to the International Energy Agency, coal will still generate 22% of global electricity in 2040, cementing coal's status as the world's single greatest source of electricity.

Q4. The best fuels are gaseous fuels. Why?
The best fuels are those that are gaseous. Gaseous fuels have the following advantages over solid and liquid fuels:

  • Gaseous fuels produce no ash and have a lower heat loss during burning.
  • Smoke is not produced by gaseous fuels.
  • They are high in calories.
  • Their combustion does not necessitate the use of any specific equipment.

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