Saturated vs Unsaturated
The words “saturated” and “unsaturated” are used with different meanings in chemistry in different occasions.
Saturation means unable to hold more or being completely filled.
In organic chemistry, saturated hydrocarbons can also be referred to as alkanes. They have the highest number of hydrogen atoms, which a molecule can accommodate. All the bonds between carbon atoms and hydrogens are single bonds. Because of that the bond rotation is allowed between any atoms. They are the simplest type of hydrocarbons. Saturated hydrocarbons have the general formula of CnH2n+2. These conditions slightly differ for the cycloalkanes because they have cyclic structures.
Saturated is also used to refer a state of a solution where no more solute can be dissolved in it. In other words, maximum amount of solute is dissolved in the solvent. Therefore, when extra solute is added to it, solute molecules tend to precipitate (or appear as a separate phase) without dissolving. The saturation point depends on the temperature, pressure, amount of solvent, and the nature of chemicals.
In environmental science, saturation of soil or water body with an element (e.g. soil is saturated with nitrogen) means it cannot store more elements. Sometimes, in surface processes, we say membrane or the surface is saturated. For example, base saturation means the surface is packed completely with base cations, which can be exchangeable. In organometallic chemistry, a saturated complex means when there are 18 valence electrons. That means the compound is coordinatively saturated (contain the highest possible amount of ligands). So they cannot undergo substitution and oxidative addition reactions. When a protein is said to be saturated, that means all of its binding sites are occupied at that given time.
The word “unsaturated” gives the meaning of “not fully filled.” So it has the opposite meaning of saturate.
In unsaturated hydrocarbons, there are double or triple bonds between the carbon atoms. Since there are multiple bonds, the optimal number of hydrogen atoms is not there in the molecule. Alkenes and alkynes are examples for unsaturated hydrocarbons. Non cyclic molecules with double bonds have the general formula of CnH2n., and alkynes have the general formula of CnH2n-2. Because of the unsaturated bonds, molecules can undergo special types of addition reactions, which saturated hydrocarbons cannot undergo. For example, when an alkene is reacted with bromine liquid, two bromine atoms are added to the carbon atoms where the double bond was.
Unsaturated solvents are not completely filled with solutes, so they have the capability to dissolve more solutes in it. In organometallic chemistry, unsaturated compounds have less than 18 electrons, so they can undergo substitution and oxidative addition reactions.
What is the difference between Saturated and Unsaturated?
• Saturated means fully filled whereas unsaturated means no fully filled.
• In saturated hydrocarbons, all the bonds are single bonds. In unsaturated hydrocarbons, double bonds and triple bonds are also present.
• When a solution is saturated, more solutes cannot be dissolved in it. When a solution is unsaturated, it can have more solutes dissolved in it.
• In organometallic chemistry, a saturated complex means when there are 18 valence electrons. So they cannot undergo substitution and oxidative addition reactions. Unsaturated compounds have less than 18 electrons, so they can undergo substitution and oxidative addition reactions.