a chemistry term to denote straight chain hydrocarbons. the simplest is methane with 1 carbon atom and 4 hydrogen atoms.
the series continues with ethane, propane, butane . . .
the general formula for alkanes is CnH2n+2, where n denotes the number of carbon atome in the chain. alkane chemical names usually end with "ane"
alkanes can also be radicals if one hydrogen is striped from the chain.