What do you get when you react CH3CH2OH with H3O+?

2 Answers

  • With H3O+ there is no reaction other than exchangeable protonation of ethanol molecules. CH3CH2OH + H+ <===> CH3CH2OH2+.

    Reactions giving dehydration and ether formation require concentrated H2SO4.

  • alcohol + acid —> alkene + H2O (water)

    Note: H3O+ is the strongest acid which can exist in water:

    ethanol (CH3CH2OH) + [H3O+] —> Ethene (CH2=CH2) + H2O

    It follows an acid catalyzed dehydration of alcohol mechanism.

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    However, there is another product that you could get:

    CH3CH2OH + [H3O+] —-> CH3CH2-O-CH2-CH3 (diethyl ether) + H2O

    However, whichever product you get depends on the temperature conditions, and I think the strength of the acids involved, but mostly the temperature conditions.

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