A saturated hydrocarbon or alkane is a hydrocarbon in which all of the carbon-carbon bonds are single bonds. The general formula for an alkane is CnH2n+2 where n is the number of carbon atoms in the molecule.
Oil and natural gas are the main source of alkanes, their combustion being for energy use the main source of consumption.
From the point of view of organic chemistry have a low reactivity, which is why they are called paraffins.
One of its most important reactions is radical halogenation, which allows the introduction of halogens in the molecule, generating haloalkanes, which in turn They can be transformed by substitution and elimination reactions into a wide variety of organic molecules.
For example, ethane by halogenation in the presence of chlorine and ultraviolet light produces chloroethane. Chloroethane reacts with aqueous sodium hydroxide to generate ethanol, its reaction with potassium cyanide produces propanenitrile and with sodium hydrogen sulfide generates ethanethiol. In these examples you can see the enormous variety of compounds organic that we can obtain from a halogenated alkane.