Difference Between Ethane and Ethene

Ethane vs Ethene

Both ethane and ethene are hydrocarbons having carbon and hydrogen atoms. Hydrocarbons can be further categorized into groups depending on their functional groups. Alkanes and alkenes are the two basic categories in organic chemistry. Alkanes have single bonds only, and they are saturated compounds. Alkenes are hydrocarbons with carbon- carbon double bonds. These are also known as olefins. The physical properties of alkenes are similar to the corresponding alkanes.


Ethane is a simple aliphatic hydrocarbon molecule with C2H6 molecular formula. Ethane is said to be a hydrocarbon because it consists carbon and hydrogen atoms only. Ethane is also known to be an alkane because it does not have multiple bonds between carbon atoms. Further, ethane contains the maximum number of hydrogen atoms that a carbon atom can possess, making it a saturated alkane. Ethane is a colorless, odorless gas. The molecular weight of ethane is 30 g mol-1. Each carbon atom in ethane has a tetrahedral geometry. The H-C-H bond angle is 109o. The carbon atoms in ethane are sp3 hybridized. A sp3 hybridized orbital from each carbon atom overlaps to make the carbon-carbon sigma bond. The bond between carbon and hydrogen is also a sigma bond, but it is made up by overlapping a sp3 hybridized orbital of the carbon with a s orbital of a hydrogen atom. Because of the single sigma bond between carbon atoms, bond rotation is feasible, and it doesn’t require a large amount of energy. Ethane is a component of natural gas, so it is isolated from natural gas in large scale. Ethane is also produced as a by-product in petroleum refining.

Ethene (Ethylene)

This is also known as ethylene, and it is a colorless gas. Ethene is the simplest alkene molecule, having two carbons and four hydrogens. It has one carbon- carbon double bond, and the molecular formula is C2H4.

 H2C  =  CH2

Both carbon atoms of ethene are sp2 hybridized. There are three sp2 hybridized orbitals and one free p orbital to each carbon atom. Two sp2 hybridized orbitals overlap with each other, to produce one sigma bond between two carbon atoms. And other hybridized orbitals overlap with the s orbital of hydrogen atoms. The two p orbitals of two carbon atoms overlap and produce one pi bond. The molecular weight of ethane is 28 g mol-1. Ethene is a relatively non-polar molecule; therefore, it dissolves in nonpolar solvents or solvents with very low polarity. Ethene is slightly soluble in water. Density of ethene is less than water. Ethene undergoes addition reactions, due to its double bonds. For example, in the hydrogenation reaction, two hydrogens are added to the double bond and converting ethene to ethane.


What is the difference between Ethane and Ethene?

• Ethane is an alkane and ethene is an alkene.

• Molecular formula of ethene is C2H4, for ethane it is C2H6.

• Ethane has single bonds only, but ethene has a double bond. Therefore, ethane is considered as a saturated hydrocarbon, whereas ethene is considered as an unsaturated hydrocarbon.

• When naming the alkenes like ethene, “ene” is used instead of “ane” in the end of the alkane name (ethane).

• The carbon atoms in ethane are sp3 hybridized while the carbon atoms of ethene are sp2 hybridized.

• Ethene can undergo polymerization reactions, but ethane cannot.