AskDefine | Define butane

Dictionary Definition

butane n : occurs in natural gas; used in the manufacture of rubber and fuels

User Contributed Dictionary



Derived from the same stem as the foul-smelling carboxylic acid liberated in rancid butter, butyric acid + -ane.


  1. A hydrocarbon (either of the two isomers of C4H10 n-butane, and 2-methyl-propane) found in natural gas.
  2. organic compound uncountable The n-butane isomer only.


the organic compound
  • Finnish: butaani
  • German: Butan
  • Icelandic: bútan
  • Italian: butano
  • Polish: butan
  • Romanian: butan
  • Swedish: butan


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Extensive Definition

Butane, also called n-butane, is the unbranched alkane with four carbon atoms, CH3CH2CH2CH3. Butane is also used as a collective term for n-butane together with its only other isomer, isobutane (also called methylpropane), CH(CH3)3.
Butanes are highly flammable, colorless, odorless, easily liquefied gases. The name butane comes from the roots but- and -ane.

Reactions and uses

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
n-Butane is the feedstock for DuPont's catalytic process for the preparation of maleic anhydride:
2 CH3CH2CH2CH3 + 7O2 → 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 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. 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 flammability of butane is not a major issue because the amount of butane in an appliance is not enough to cause a combustible mix given the amount of air in a room. 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.

Effects and health issues

Inhalation of butane can cause euphoria, drowsiness, narcosis, asphyxia, cardiac arrhythmia 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. By spraying butane directly into the throat, the jet of fluid can cool rapidly to –20 °C by expansion, causing prolonged laryngospasm. "Sudden Sniffer's Death syndrome", first described by Bass in 1970, is the most common single cause of "solvent related" death, resulting in 55% of known fatal cases.


butane in Arabic: بوتان (كيمياء)
butane in Belarusian (Tarashkevitsa): Бутан (рэчыва)
butane in Bosnian: Butan (plin)
butane in Catalan: Butà
butane in Danish: Butan
butane in German: Butan
butane in Estonian: Butaan
butane in Modern Greek (1453-): Βουτάνιο
butane in Spanish: Butano
butane in Esperanto: Butano (kemio)
butane in French: Butane
butane in Galician: Butano
butane in Korean: 뷰테인
butane in Croatian: Butan (alkan)
butane in Indonesian: Butana
butane in Italian: Butano
butane in Hebrew: בוטאן
butane in Kurdish: Bûtan (alkan)
butane in Latin: Butanum
butane in Latvian: Butāns
butane in Luxembourgish: Butan
butane in Lithuanian: Butanas (dujos)
butane in Hungarian: Bután
butane in Dutch: Butaan
butane in Japanese: ブタン
butane in Norwegian: Butan
butane in Norwegian Nynorsk: Butan
butane in Polish: Butan
butane in Portuguese: Butano
butane in Romanian: Butan
butane in Russian: Бутан (химия)
butane in Simple English: Butane
butane in Slovenian: Butan (plin)
butane in Serbian: Бутан (једињење)
butane in Finnish: Butaani
butane in Swedish: Butan
butane in Vietnamese: Butan
butane in Turkish: Bütan
butane in Ukrainian: Бутан (сполука)
butane in Chinese: 丁烷
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