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Adilah Adams


TITLE: Alkanes and Alkenes.

AIM: ⁠To determine which of two samples labelled A and B is an alkane and which is an alkene.


 4 test tubes  Bromine solution

 Test tube rack  0.02 moldm-3 KMnO4
 Droppers  Dilute H2SO4
 hexane - Sample A  Glass rod
 hexene - Sample B


1. 2cm3 of sample A was added to a test tube.

2. Bromine solution was added to sample A drop by drop. The solution was stirred
and the observations were recorded.
3. A few drops of H2SO4 was added to 1cm3 of KMnO4.
4. The acidified KMnO4, from step 3, was added drop by drop to 2cm3 of sample A.
The mixture was stirred and the results were recorded.
5. Steps 1 to 4 were repeated using sample B.


Observations in sample
No visible The bromine was
change as the decolourized. The
Bromine –
solution solution changed
remained from orange-brown
orange-brown to colourless
The KMnO4 was
Potassium Purple,
decolourized. The
Manganate transparent
solution changed
(VII) – solution, no
from purple to
KMnO4 visible change

Alkanes are saturated compounds which are relatively inert. They undergo very few reactions
which include cracking, combustion and free radical substitution with halogens. Substitution
reactions require UV light to provide the activation energy for the homolytic splitting of the
halogens to form free radicals. Alkenes are unsaturated compounds which take part in a wide
range of addition reactions. They contain double bonds which are electron rich reactive centres,
as such they add on electrophiles and react with oxidizing agents.

In this experiment, a few drops of H2SO4 was added to the KMnO4 which allowed it to become
acidified. Equal amounts of bromine and acidified potassium manganate (VII) were added to
both sample A and B. When acidified potassium manganate (VII) was added to sample A, there
was no colour change however, when it was added to sample B, the KMnO4 was decolourized.
When the bromine solution was added to sample A, there was no colour change, however, when
added to sample B, the bromine rapidly decolourized. Based on the observations, we can say that
A is an alkane and B is an alkene.

Since the reactions were conducted in a lab, enough UV light may not have been present and
therefore there was no visible change when sample A reacted with bromine. The observation
recorded is a characteristic reaction for alkanes as they require UV light for free radical
When sample A was reacted with acidified KMnO4, no visible change was observed and from
the observation it can be deduced that sample A is saturated and hence contains no bonds onto
which the acidified KMnO4 can be added. This is also characteristic of alkanes.
From the previous observations and deductions, it can be said that sample A is an alkane and is
therefore the hexane.

When bromine was added to sample B, the solution was decolourized. It is characteristic of
alkenes to decolourize bromine hence we can infer that sample B is an alkene. Alkenes contain 1
or more double bonds as it is unsaturated and therefore these bonds would break and
electrophilic addition will occur to cause the decolourization of the solution. The reaction occurs
as follows:
The bromine molecule approaches π electrons of the double bond. Electrons in Br—Br single
bond are repelled by π electrons of double bond producing a temporary dipole and an electron
deficiency at the end of the molecule nearer the double bond.

The more positive bromine then forms a σ bond with one of the unsaturated carbons and breaks
from the other bromine which forms a bromide ion.

The intermediate carbocation then reacts with a bromide ion to complete the electrophilic

When acidified potassium manganate (VII) was added to sample B, a colour change from purple
to colourless was observed. This is a characteristic of an alkene. Since sample B was oxidized,
an unsaturated compound must have been present such that a double bond breaks and the —OH
is added. The reaction occurs as follows:
Alkenes react with cold acidified dilute potassium manganate (VII) to give a diol product. The
reaction involves both oxidation and addition to the double bond, hence it is referred to as
oxidative addition. The cold KMnO4/H+ oxidizes hexene to hexene-diol.


 Impurities may have been present in the chemicals.

 Parallax error when measuring out samples.


 Reagents were added dropwise to observe visible changes as they occurred

 Mixtures were stirred as reagents were added to ensure uniform distribution of reagents
and make more accurate observations.

CONCLUSION: Sample A was found to be the alkane, hexane, and sample B was found to be
the alkene, hexene.