Acetylene it’s a concept that comes from french acétylène. This word, in turn, is formed by acétyle (which can be translated as “acetyl”) Y -Jan (the ending “-Eno”).

As you can see, it is possible to know more about the idea of ​​acetylene by analyzing its etymological components. Acetyl is he radical which corresponds to acetic acid; A radical, meanwhile, is a set of atoms that, in a chemical compound, acts as a unit and passes unchanged from one combination to another.


Acetylene is a highly flammable hydrocarbon.

Termination -no, for its part, refers to the field of chemistry to the hydrogen carbides. It should be noted that carbides are combinations of carbon and metals.

What is acetylene

The etymology acetylene refers to acetyl and links to radicals, carbides… But what specifically is acetylene? It’s about a gaseous hydrocarbon characterized by its high flammability.

The hydrocarbons They are compounds that arise when carbon combines with hydrogen. In the specific case of acetylene, it is generated when the Water (substance formed by two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen) acts on the calcium carbide.

Continuing with the acetylene classification, we are facing a alkyne: a aliphatic hydrocarbon (that is, not aromatic) that presents triple DC links (carbon-carbon). Also know as ethyne, acetylene has two carbon atoms and two hydrogen atoms, its molecular formula being C2H2.

His discovery

Edmund davy was the one who accidentally discovered acetylene while trying to isolate potassium. In 1836, Davy heated potassium carbonate with carbon, generating the residue that today is called potassium carbide. Potassium carbide, in turn, releases this gas by reacting with water.

Despite the finding, it took more than two decades for acetylene to return to attention. It was the French chemist Marcellin Berthelot who in 1860, rediscovered this gas and christened it acetylene.


There are welding equipment that uses acetylene.

Acetylene Properties

Acetylene is explosive: it explodes, for example, when it is compressed without being in solution in another substance. Its decomposition occurs through a exothermic reaction (releases Energy), with a calorific value of 24,000 kcal / kg.

East colorless gas is lighter than the air. It can be obtained by rapid cooling of volatile oil fragments with high-boiling oils or natural gas flames.

It is usual that acetylene is obtained with the reaction of Water in calcium carbide. This process gives rise to the appearance of acetylene and calcium hydroxide.

Uses and applications

The first uses of acetylene were in the field of illumination. The combination of reduced cost, ease of generation and calorific power made it an ideal element to be used as lighting gas.

Thus, at the beginning of the twentieth century systems were devised with levers, valves and other resources that allowed to graduate the fall of the water on the carbide for the adequate obtaining of the gas in lamps, generators and other artifacts.

Over time, acetylene also began to be used in torches, cinematographers, projectors Y car headlights. Currently it is even used for the manufacture of solvents and other products.