High School Chemistry



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Ester Formation
General description

Students are introduced to organic synthesis through the production of esters. A general background and basic nomenclature is covered.



Age group

High School Chemistry
Estimated time

55 minutes


Background

Esters are organic molecules of the general form


drawing.tif
where R1 and R2 are any carbon chain. Esters are unique in that many of them have strong, pleasant odors. As such, they are often used in fragrances, and many artificial flavorings are in fact esters.
Esters are produced by the reaction between alcohols and carboxylic acids. For example, reacting ethanol with acetic acid to give ethyl acetate is shown below.

ethyl acetate.tifacetic acid.tifethanol.tif

+  + water.tif

In the case of ethyl acetate, R1 is a CH3 group and R2 is a CH3CH2 group.
Naming esters systematically requires naming the functional groups on both sides of the bridging oxygen. In the example above, the right side of the ester as shown is a CH3CH2 group, or ethyl group. The left side is CH3C=O, or acetate. The name of the ester is therefore ethyl acetate. Deriving the names of the side from the carboxylic acid merely requires replacing the suffix –ic with –ate.
Concepts

The principle concept introduced in this lesson is organic synthesis of esters. General nomenclature of esters is also introduced.


Vocabulary

Ester – general organic molecule containing the functional group R1-(C=O)-O-R2

Alcohol – general organic molecule containing the function group R-OH

Carboxylic acid – general organic molecule containing the function group R-(C=O)-OH



Materials

1-Pentanol (n-amyl alcohol)

Ethanol (ethyl alcohol)

Methanol (methyl alcohol)

Butanol (butyl alcohol)

Glacial acetic acid

Formic acid

Salicylic acid

Butyric acid

18M Sulfuric acid

5% Sodium bicarbonate solution
Caution: Concentrated sulfuric acid is highly corrosive and should remain in the hood. Glacial acetic acid and formic acid are also corrosive. Pentanol, ethanol, methanol, butanol, and glacial acetic acid are flammable. Methanol is toxic. Great care should be used when handling these materials. Goggles, gloves, and aprons/lab coats should be worn at all times.

Ester Formation
Answer key
Esters are organic molecules of the general form
drawing.tif
where R1 and R2 are any carbon chain. Esters are unique in that many of them have strong, pleasant odors. As such, they are often used in fragrances, and many artificial flavorings are in fact esters.
Esters are produced by the reaction between alcohols and carboxylic acids. For example, reacting ethanol with acetic acid to give ethyl acetate is shown below.

ethyl acetate.tifacetic acid.tifethanol.tif

+  + water.tif

In the case of ethyl acetate, R1 is a CH3 group and R2 is a CH3CH2 group.
Naming esters systematically requires naming the functional groups on both sides of the bridging oxygen. In the example above, the right side of the ester as shown is a CH3CH2 group, or ethyl group. The left side is CH3C=O, or acetate. The name of the ester is therefore ethyl acetate. Deriving the names of the side from the carboxylic acid merely requires replacing the suffix –ic with –ate.
Given below are 7 recipes for different esters and a procedure for making them. In each case, the reaction proceeds spontaneously but slowly; the concentrated sulfuric acid is added as a catalyst to speed up the reaction. Try to identify the name and the odor of each ester that is produced.




Alcohol

Carboxylic Acid

Ester name

Scent

Ester 1

1-pentanol (n-amyl alcohol)

acetic acid

1-pentyl acetate (n-amyl acetate)

banana

Ester 2

ethanol (ethyl alcohol)

formic acid

ethyl formate

rum

Ester 3

methanol (methyl alcohol)

salicylic acid

methyl salicylate

wintergreen

Ester 4

ethanol (ethyl alcohol)

butyric acid

ethyl butyrate

pineapple/

strawberry



Ester 5

butanol (butyl alcohol)

acetic acid

butyl acetate

pear

Ester 6

1-pentanol (n-amyl alcohol)

butyric acid

1-pentyl butyrate (n-amyl butyrate)

pear/apricot

Ester 7

methanol (methyl alcohol)

butyric acid

methyl butyrate

pineapple/apple

Procedure



  1. Add 1 mL alcohol and 1 mL carboxylic acid (or 1 scoop if using salicylic acid)

  2. Carefully ad 3-4 drops of sulfuric acid

  3. Put the tubes in a hot water bath (50-60°C) for 5-10 minutes

  4. Try to identify the smell of the resulting product. If the smell of the sulfuric acid is too strong (giving it a sour odor), it can be neutralized with a few drops of 5% NaHCO3.

Ester Formation
Student worksheet
Esters are organic molecules of the general form
drawing.tif
where R1 and R2 are any carbon chain. Esters are unique in that they often have strong, pleasant odors. As such, they are often used in fragrances, and many artificial flavorings are in fact esters.
Esters are produced by the reaction between alcohols and carboxylic acids. For example, reacting ethanol with acetic acid to give ethyl acetate is shown below.

ethyl acetate.tifacetic acid.tifethanol.tif

+  + water.tif



In the case of ethyl acetate, R1 is a CH3 group and R2 is a CH3CH2 group.
Naming esters systematically requires naming the functional groups on both sides of the bridging oxygen. In the example above, the right side of the ester as shown is a CH3CH2 group, or ethyl group. The left side is CH3C=O, or acetate. The name of the ester is therefore ethyl acetate. Deriving the names of the side from the carboxylic acid merely requires replacing the suffix –ic with –ate.
Given below are 7 recipes for different esters and a procedure for making them. In each case, the reaction proceeds spontaneously but slowly; the concentrated sulfuric acid is added as a catalyst to speed up the reaction. Try to identify the name and the odor of each ester that is produced.




Alcohol

Carboxylic Acid

Ester name

Scent

Ester 1

1-pentanol (n-amyl alcohol)

acetic acid







Ester 2

ethanol (ethyl alcohol)

formic acid







Ester 3

methanol (methyl alcohol)

salicylic acid







Ester 4

ethanol (ethyl alcohol)

butyric acid







Ester 5

butanol (butyl alcohol)

acetic acid







Ester 6

1-pentanol (n-amyl alcohol)

butyric acid







Ester 7

methanol (methyl alcohol)

butyric acid






Procedure



  1. Add 1 mL alcohol and 1 mL carboxylic acid (or 1 scoop if using salicylic acid)

  2. Carefully ad 3-4 drops of sulfuric acid

  3. Put the tubes in a hot water bath (50-60°C) for 5-10 minutes

  4. Try to identify the smell of the resulting product. If the smell of the sulfuric acid is too strong (giving it a sour odor), it can be neutralized with a few drops of 5% NaHCO3.



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