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Question Video: Determining the Name of the Ester Produced from the Esterification of Propanoic Acid with Ethanol Chemistry

The equation describes an esterification reaction. What is the name of the unidentified ester product?

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Video Transcript

The following equation describes an esterification reaction. Propanoic acid plus ethanol are in equilibrium with X plus water. What is the name of the unidentified ester product? (A) Ethyl ethanoate, (B) propyl ethanoate, (C) ethyl propanoate, (D) propyl propanoate, or (E) methyl propanoate.

Esterification is a type of chemical reaction where an ester is formed. In the chemical equation provided, X represents the ester. To answer the question, we need to determine the name of this ester product. But first, we’ll need to determine its structure. To do this, let’s take a look at the reactants propanoic acid and ethanol.

The structure of propanoic acid contains a carboxyl group. And the name ends in “-oic acid.” These are both indicators that propanoic acid is a carboxylic acid. The structure of ethanol contains a hydroxy group, and the name ends in O-L. These are both indicators that ethanol is an alcohol. Now that we know that this esterification reaction involves a carboxylic acid and an alcohol, let’s take a look at how this type of reaction works.

This type of esterification is often performed in the presence of an acid catalyst like sulfuric acid and is known more specifically as Fischer esterification. During this reaction, the hydroxy group of the carboxylic acid is replaced by the alkoxy portion of the alcohol. This produces an ester and water. With this in mind, let’s take a look at the original equation.

We know that during this reaction, the hydroxy group of the carboxylic acid, propanoic acid, will be replaced by the alkoxy portion of the alcohol, ethanol. The hydroxy group will become a part of the water molecule, and the rest of the propanoic acid molecule will become a part of the ester. So the unidentified ester product X has this structure.

Now we need to name this ester. The name of an ester is derived from the parent carboxylic acid and alcohol. To determine the name of an ester, we need to change the endings of the parent names. We’ll change the ending of the carboxylic acid name to -ate and the ending of the alcohol name to Y-L. So propanoic acid becomes propanoate, and ethanol becomes ethyl.

To complete the name of the ester, we write the portion of the name which was derived from the alcohol first followed by the name that was derived from the carboxylic acid. So the name of the ester is ethyl propanoate. Therefore, the esterification reaction between propanoic acid and ethanol produces the ester ethyl propanoate, answer choice (C).

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