Hydrocarbon

An organic chemical compound of hydrogen and carbon in the gaseous, liquid, or solid phase. The molecular structure of hydrocarbon compounds varies from the simplest (methane, a constituent of natural gas) to the very heavy and very complex. Natural sources of hydrocarbons are the by-products of digestion and decomposition (e.g., rotting, spoiling, putrefying). Coal, natural gas, oil, sugar, starches, and plastics are all composed of hydrocarbons. The incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons from fossil fuels contributes to our pollution and global warming problems.

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