Esters compose an important class of organic compounds. Esters often have a pleasant scent and are found in natural fragrances. Esters can be prepared synthetically for use in foods, flavorings, and perfumes. Ethyl acetate is often used as a primary solvent in non-acetone fingernail polish remover.
The esterification process produces esters through a condensation reaction. Condensation reactions have water as one of the products. The starting compounds for esters are an alcohol and an acid (either an organic or an inorganic acid). A catalyst, such as concentrated acid or an ion‑exchange resin, is added to accelerate the reaction. This reaction will not go to completion, but instead reaches equilibrium after a given amount of time. Using Le Chatelier’s Principle, the equilibrium can be shifted toward the product by adding more reactants or removing products.
In this experiment, you will
- Conduct an esterification reaction to produce ethyl acetate.
- Measure and analyze the GC retention times of the reactants and products involved in synthesizing ethyl acetate.
- Measure and analyze the GC retention times of the reaction mixture to confirm the production of ethyl acetate.