Organic molecule

Figure 1. Space-filling model of octane. The white spheres represent hydrogen atoms and the black spheres represent carbon atoms.[1] Octane is an example of an organic molecule.

Organic molecules are molecules which are made of carbon and other elements. At least one of the atoms in the molecule must be carbon, they usually involve hydrogen and oxygen, and they can also involve nitrogen, sulfur, and phosphorous. Hydrocarbons, like alkanes, alkenes and alkynes are all organic molecules and so are alcohols, carboxylic acids and carbohydrates.

Most (85% or so) of the world's primary energy comes from fossil fuels, which are made up of mostly organic molecules. These organic molecules undergo combustion - they react with oxygen from the atmosphere and produce carbon dioxide. This process typically involves an exothermic reaction which releases heat energy that is converted into usable energy, usually with a heat engine.

Organic chemistry is a vast field that takes many years of study to fully understand; to get a start, please see UC Davis's chem wiki.


  1. "N-octane-spaceFilling" by Karlhahn - Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -

Authors and Editors

Semaa Amin, Allison Campbell, Jordan Hanania, Jason Donev
Last updated: August 29, 2017
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