CAS number 106-97-8 YesY
PubChem 7843
ChemSpider 7555 YesY
UN number 1011
As Liquefied petroleum gas: 1075
KEGG D03186 YesY
ChEBI CHEBI:37808 YesY
Jmol-3D images Image 1
Molecular formula C4H10
Molar mass 58.12 g mol−1
Appearance Colorless gas
Density 2.48 kg/m3, gas (15 °C, 1 atm)
600 kg/m3, liquid (0 °C, 1 atm)
Melting point

−138.4 °C (135.4 K)

Boiling point

−0.5 °C (272.6 K)

Solubility in water 6.1 mg/100 ml (20 °C)
MSDS External MSDS
EU classification Highly flammable (F+)
NFPA 704
NFPA 704.svg
Flash point −60 °C
500 °C
Explosive limits 1.8 – 8.4% [1]
Related compounds
Related alkanes Propane; Pentane
Related compounds Isobutane; Cyclobutane
Supplementary data page
Structure and
n, εr, etc.
Phase behaviour
Solid, liquid, gas
Spectral data UV, IR, NMR, MS
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Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C, 100 kPa)
Infobox references

Butane is a gas with the formula C4H10 that is an alkane with four carbon atoms. The term may refer to any of two structural isomers, or to a mixture of them: in the IUPAC nomenclature, however, butane refers only to the unbranched n-butane isomer; the other one being called "methylpropane" or isobutane.

Butanes are highly flammable, colorless, easily liquefied gases. The name butane comes from the roots but- (from butyric acid) and -ane.



Common name normal butane
unbranched butane
IUPAC name butane methylpropane
Butane.svg Isobutane.png
Butane-2D-Skeletal.svg I-Butane-2D-Skeletal.svg

Rotation about the central C-C bond produces two different conformations (trans and gauche) for n-butane.[2]


Spectrum of the blue flame from a butane torch showing molecular radical band emission and Swan bands

When oxygen is plentiful, butane burns to form carbon dioxide and water vapor; when oxygen is limited, carbon (soot) or carbon monoxide may also be formed.

2 C4H10 + 13 O2 → 8 CO2 + 10 H2O

The maximum adiabatic flame temperature of butane with air is 2,243 K (1,970 °C; 3,578 °F).

n-Butane is the feedstock for DuPont's catalytic process for the preparation of maleic anhydride:

2 CH3CH2CH2CH3 + 7 O2 → 2 C2H2(CO)2O + 8 H2O

n-Butane, like all hydrocarbons, undergoes free radical chlorination providing both 1-chloro- and 2-chlorobutanes, as well as more highly chlorinated derivatives. The relative rates of the chlorination is partially explained by the differing bond dissociation energies, 425 and 411 kJ/mol for the two types of C-H bonds. The two central carbon atoms have the slightly weaker C-H bonds.


Butane lighter in use
Butane lighter, showing liquid butane reservoir

The most common use of butane is as lighter fuel for a common lighter or butane torch.

Butane being sprayed from an aerosol spray can

Butane gas is sold bottled as a fuel for cooking and camping. When blended with propane and other hydrocarbons, it is referred to commercially as LPG, for liquified petroleum gas. It is also used as a petrol component, as a feedstock for the production of base petrochemicals in steam cracking, as fuel for cigarette lighters and as a propellant in aerosol sprays such as deodorants.

Very pure forms of butane, especially isobutane, can be used as refrigerants and have largely replaced the ozone layer-depleting halomethanes, for instance in household refrigerators and freezers. The system operating pressure for butane is lower than for the halomethanes, such as R-12, so R-12 systems such as in automotive air conditioning systems, when converted to butane will not function optimally.

Cordless hair irons are usually powered by butane cartridges.[3]

Effects and health issues

Butane gas cylinder used for cooking

Inhalation of butane can cause euphoria, drowsiness, narcosis, asphyxia, cardiac arrhythmia, temporary memory loss and frostbite, which can result in death from asphyxiation and ventricular fibrillation. Butane is the most commonly misused volatile substance in the UK, and was the cause of 52% of "solvent related" deaths in 2000.[4] By spraying butane directly into the throat, the jet of fluid can cool rapidly to −20 °C by expansion, causing prolonged laryngospasm.[5] "Sudden sniffer's death" syndrome, first described by Bass in 1970,[6] is the most common single cause of "solvent related" death, resulting in 55% of known fatal cases.[5]

The paper "Emission of nitrogen dioxide from butane gas heaters and stoves indoors", from the American Journal of Applied Sciences, indicates that nitrogen dioxide, a toxic gas, results from burning butane gas, and represents a human health hazard from home heaters and stoves.

See also


  1. ^ MSDS Butane
  2. ^ Roman M. Balabin (2009). "Enthalpy Difference between Conformations of Normal Alkanes: Raman Spectroscopy Study of n-Pentane and n-Butane". J. Phys. Chem. A 113 (6): 1012. doi:10.1021/jp809639s. PMID 19152252. 
  3. ^ FAA: Hazardous Materials p. 4
  4. ^ Trends in death Associated with Abuse of Volatile Substances 1971–2004 Field-Smith M, Bland JM, Taylor JC, et al., Department of Public Health Sciences. London: St George’s Medical School
  5. ^ a b Ramsey J, Anderson HR, Bloor K, et al. An introduction to the practice, prevalence and chemical toxicology of volatile substance abuse. Hum Toxicol 1989;8:261–269
  6. ^ Bass M. Sudden sniffing death. JAMA 1970;212:2075–2079

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Butane — Butane …   Wikipédia en Français

  • butane — [ bytan ] n. m. • 1874; du rad. de but(ylique) et suff. chim. ane ♦ Cour. Hydrocarbure saturé, gazeux et liquéfiable, employé comme combustible (C4H10). Le butane et le propane. Une bouteille de butane. Une cuisinière au butane. Appos. Gaz butane …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Butane — (Butylwasserstoffe), gasförmige Kohlenwasserstoffe der Grenzreihe von der Zusammensetzung C4H10. Normales Butan von der Formel CH3–CH2–CH2–CH3 ist ein farbloses, bei +1° zu einer Flüssigkeit kondensierbares, im amerikanischen… …   Lexikon der gesamten Technik

  • Butane —   [Kurzwort], Singular Butan das, s, zu den Alkanen zählende Kohlenwasserstoffe mit der Summenformel C4H10, die in den zwei Strukturisomeren n Butan und Isobutan auftreten. Butane kommen in Erdgas, Erdöl und Erdölverarbeitungsprodukten… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • butane — [byo͞o′tān΄, byo͞o tān′] n. [ BUT(YL) + ANE] either of two alkanes (normal butane and isobutane) having the same formula, C4H10, but different structures and used esp. as a fuel …   English World dictionary

  • Butane — Bu tane (b[=u] t[=a]n), n. [L. butyrum butter. See {Butter}.] (Chem.) An inflammable gaseous saturated hydrocarbon, {C4H10}, of the marsh gas, or paraffin, series. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Butane — C4H10, Kohlenwasserstoffe der Äthanreihe. Normales Butan (Primäres Butan, Diäthyl) CH3.CH2.CH2.CH3 findet sich im amerikanischen Erdöl, in den Destillationsprodukten der Kannelkohle und entsteht aus Jodäthyl und Zink bei 150°. Sekundäres Butan… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • butane — paraffin hydrocarbon, 1875, from but(yl), hydrocarbon from butyric acid, a product of fermentation found in rancid butter, from L. butyrum (see BUTTER (Cf. butter)) + chemical suffix ane …   Etymology dictionary

  • butane — ► NOUN ▪ a flammable hydrocarbon gas present in petroleum and natural gas and used as a fuel. ORIGIN ultimately from Latin butyrum butter …   English terms dictionary

  • Butane — Eigenschaften der Butane Name n Butan[1] Isobutan[2] Strukturformel …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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