January 15, 2007
Image of Acetylene

Acetylene is the simplest of all the alkyne hydrocarbons, all of which contain triple bonds between two carbon atoms. Acetylene is used for synthesis of other chemicals and as a fuel for welding where an acetylene oxygen flame can reach 3200 °C.

MOTW update: April 22, 2024

Acetylene1 is the simplest molecule that contains a carbon–carbon triple bond. Its main use is as a fuel for welding and cutting metals; it has also served as a reactant for synthesizing acetaldehyde and acetic acid.

Acetylene is rarely found on Earth, but it is surprisingly abundant in space. It exists on icy planets and moons, the cold interstellar medium, and extremely hot circumstellar surroundings. This month, a review by Evgeniy O. Pentsak, Maria S. Murga, and Valentine P. Ananikov* at the Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow) describes how extraterrestrial acetylene forms and expands carbon skeletons, including aromatic rings and even nanosized particles, in cold and hot environments. The authors also explore acetylene’s role in prebiotic chemistry.

1. CAS Reg. No. 74-86-2.

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