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cyclopropane

cyclopropane, C3H6, a gaseous hydrocarbon. It is a cyclic alkane, its three carbon atoms being joined together in a ring. The angle between successive carbon-carbon bonds in the ring is only 60°, much less than that between successive carbon-carbon bonds in a normal open-chain alkane; the cyclopropane molecule is thus said to be "strained." Many reactions of cyclopropane involve breaking one of the carbon-carbon bonds in the ring, which opens the ring and relieves the strain. Cyclopropane is prepared commercially by the reaction of 1,3-dichloropropane with zinc. It is a potent inhalation anesthetic, that once enjoyed wide use, but has been replaced by less combustible gases. Cyclopropane allowed the transport of more oxygen to the tissues than did other common anesthetics and also produced greater skeletal muscle relaxation. It is not irritating to the respiratory tract. Because of the low solubility of cyclopropane in the blood, postoperative recovery was usually rapid but nausea and vomiting were common. See anesthesia.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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