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alkanes are saturated hydrocarbons their representation is R-H
there are many uses of alkanes for example methane is the major component of bio gas ethane and propane are used as fuels higher alkanes are major components of petroleum
Depends what you mean by "common." If you mean "common in the universe" the answer is methane (CH4). It's one of the most common compounds in the universe, because carbon is an inherently stable nucleus and most of the mass of the universe is hydrogen. Methane is probably the third most common component (after hydrogen and helium) of the gas giant planets, like Jupiter and Saturn. Interestingly, Saturn's moon Titan is of just the right temperature for it to have liquid methane that falls as rain, erodes the landscape, and may form rivers and seas. Methane and ethane (C2H6), the next heavier alkane, are common on Earth, too, and are the principal components of natural gas. Natural gas is found underground, in roughly the same locations as petroleum and coal. It is primarily used as a fuel for heating -- you are very likely to have a natural gas powered water heater, and, if you live in the western United States, a natural gas furnace. In this context it's interesting that the United States is experiencing something of a natural gas boom right now, with enormous new deposits discovered in shale formations in the the Dakotas and Pennsylvania, among other places. There are estimates that more than 100 years of electricity production by natural gas exists in these formations Unemployment in North Dakota is 3.5% and falling because of the oil and gas industry boom there. Natural gas also has significant importance as the starting material for a number of important industrial chemicals, such as methanol (wood alcohl), formaldehyde, acetic acid, CFCs (refrigerants and industrial solvents). When some of these are further combined with nitrogen condensed from the atmosphere, they lead to ammonia, nitric acid, urea, and thence to various fertilizers. Many important processes start with the steam reforming reaction between methane and water: CH4(g) + H2O(g) -> CO(g) + 3 H2(g) The product, a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, is called synthesis gas. In the production of carbon dioxide and hydrogen, more water is added and the water shift reaction occurs: CO(g) + H2O(g) -> CO2(g) + H2(g) For an overall reaction of: CH4(g) + 2 H2O(g) -> CO2(g) + 4 H2(g) In addition, ethane (C2H6) is "cracked" at high temperatures (1600F) to form ethylene (C2H4) and hydrogen (H2). Ethylene is the starting point for an enormous variety of organic compounds, including plastics (e.g. polyethylene) and pharmaceuticals. A "common" alkane as far as daily experience goes is, of course, octane (C8H18) and closely related compounds (heptane, hexane, nonane), various mixtures of which form kerosene and gasoline. Again, the principal use of these compounds is as a fuel, although in this case (since these are all liquids) as a motor fuel, for trucks, cars, trains, boats and airplanes. No known energy storage technology even approaches the efficiency and simplicity of these alkanes. But some of the bigger alkanes are also used as starting points for organic synthesis -- the construction of useful compounds in the laboratory, or factory.