Answer to Question #31411 in Organic Chemistry for Sebastian

Question #31411
What is the name of the ester formed from the combination of methanol and acetic acid (ethanoic acid)?
Expert's answer
Methyl acetate or methyl ethanoate, is a carboxylate esterwith the formula CH3COOCH3. An ester is a product of the reaction of an acid (usually organic) and an alcohol (the hydrogen of the acid R-COOH is replaced by an alkyl group R'). Esters mainly result from the condensation (a reaction that produces water) of a carboxylic acid and an alcohol. The process is called esterification. This reaction can be catalyzed by the presence of H+ ions. Sulphuric acid, H2SO4, is often used as a catalyst for this reaction. Esters are named in the same manner as salts: two-word names are used. Note that in the general formula, R-COOR' (the carbon is double-bonded to one oxygen atom and single-bonded to another), the alkyl group (R') is always attached to an oxygen atom. This alkyl group (R') is named as the first word of the two-word name. The second word is derived by adding the ending -oate to the stem of the acid name (-oic in the acid name is replaced by -oate).

Esters are named as derivatives of the carboxylic acid fromwhich they are formed. Condensation of ethanoic acid (CH3COOH) withmethanol (CH3OH) in the presence of sulphuric acid will produce methylethanoate (CH3COOCH3) according to following equation:


The esterification reactions are generally easily reversibleby addition of water; the reverse reaction is called the hydrolysis of the ester and proceeds in the presence of aqueous base. The esterification process will proceed more nearly to completion if a substance which removes water without reacting with the acid or the alcohol is added to the reaction, such as sulfuric acid. The concentrated H2SO4 removes water from the products and is a dehydrating agent.

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