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Hydrocarbons are a class of molecules comprised of carbon and hydrogen. They can range in size from one carbon atom with four hydrogen atoms (methane) to long chains and rings.

Significance for a Martian colony

The manufacturing of hydrocarbons is inevitable for a colony on Mars. As an intermediate product they are a resource to manufacture a great variety of vital products that are made from synthetic materials, such as space suits, gaskets, etc.

Liquid hydrocarbons can be used for energy storage. Accumulated in large tanks, they can be oxidized on demand.

Hydrocarbon Molecules


Alkanes are non-cyclical hydrocarbons containing only single bonds between carbon and hydrogen atoms.


Cycloalkanes are cyclical hydrocarbons containing only single bonds between carbon and hydrogen atoms.

  • Cyclopropane C3H6


Alkenes are hydrocarbons containing at least one double carbon bond.


Alkynes, also called acetylenes, are hydrocarbons containing at least one triple carbon bond.

  • Ethyne () is the simplest possible alkyne.


Alcohols are hydrocarbons containing a hydroxyl functional group (OH). They are liquid and, therefore, can be stored easily without high pressure or low temperature. Alcohols can be used as fuel, producing heat when oxidized, with water and carbon dioxide as reaction products.


Hydrocarbons are the main subject of organic chemistry. They can be produced artificially through chemical reactions of through biological processes.

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