Cracking and alkenes


  • Hydrocarbons can be broken down (cracked) to produce smaller, more useful molecules.

Cracking can be done by various methods including catalytic cracking and steam cracking.

Students should be able to describe in general terms the conditions used for catalytic cracking and steam cracking.

The products of cracking include alkanes and another type of hydrocarbon called alkenes.

Alkenes are more reactive than alkanes and react with bromine water, which is used as a test for alkenes.

Students should be able to recall the colour change when bromine water reacts with an alkene.

There is a high demand for fuels with small molecules and so some of the products of cracking are useful as fuels.

Alkenes are used to produce polymers and as starting materials for the production of many other chemicals.

Students should be able to balance chemical equations as examples of cracking given the formulae of the reactants and products.

Students should be able to give examples to illustrate the usefulness of cracking. They should also be able to explain how modern life depends on the uses of hydrocarbons.

(For Combined Science: Trilogy and Synergy students do not need to know the formulae or names of individual alkenes.)

WS 1.2 Use a variety of models such as representational, spatial, descriptive, computational and mathematical to solve problems, make predictions and to develop scientific explanations and understanding of familiar and unfamiliar facts.