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–           From destructive distillation wood.

–           From starchy food and sugar


General molecular formular

Alkanol is a homologous series with general molecular formular of Cn H2n+1OH or ROH.

Or (CnH2n+2O).



The names of alkanols are obtained by substituting “e” in alkanes with “Ol” in alkanol e.g. methanol

(CH3OH), ethanol (CH3CH2OH).



The alkanols are classified based on the number of alkyl groups directly linked to the carbon atom

holding the hydroxyl group.

  1. Primary alkanols (1): It has only one alkyl group attached to the carbon atom that carries the

hydroxyl group e.g.                                     H

R –       C     OH



H          H                                              H

H      C          C   OH          or     H     C   OH

H          H                                              H

Ethanol                                                Methanol

  1. Secondary alkanols (2):- They have 2 alkyl groups directly linked with the carbon atom holding the hydroxyl group e.g.



H          H          H                                              H

H          C          C          C          H          or         R          C          R1

H          OH       H                                              OH

Propan – 2-ol

III. Tertiary alkanols (30 ):  the alkanols here have 3 alkyl groups attached to the carbon atom holding the hydroxyl group

CH3                                           R1


CH3       C          CH3         or       R          C          OH


OH                                           R11

2 – methylpropan -2 –ol

The R1, R11 are alkyl groups which may be the same or not.

N.B:      Examine the structure of the alkanol, identify the carbon atom bonded to the –OH, count the number of alkyl groups that are directly attached to the carbon atom.  Then you can say whether it is 1, 2 or 3.



  1. Name the functional group in the alkanol.
  2. Give an example each by writing the structure and names of the classes of alkanols.


Types of Alkanol

The type of alkanols is determined by the number of the hydroxyl group –OH, present in the molecule.


  1. MONOHYDRIC ALKANOLS: This type has only one –OH, present in its molecule

e.g. C2H5OH, C3H7OH e.t.c.

  1. DIHYDRIC ALKANOLS: This type has two of –OH group per molecule e.g.

H                                              H


H          C          OH                   H          C          OH


H          C          OH                   H          C          H


H                                  H          C          OH



Ethan -1, 2- diol                             Propan 1, 3-diol

  1. POLYHYDRIC ALKANOLS: This type has three or more.  OH groups per molecule e.g. glycerol.


H                                                                       H


H          C          OH                                           H          C          OH


H          C          OH                                           H          C          OH


H          C          OH                                           H          C          OH


H                                                          H          C          OH


H          C          OH


H          C         OH



PREPARATION   e.g. ethanol


  1. Laboratory preparation

–           Hydrolyzing ethyl esters with hot alkali

–           Reducing ethanol with nascent hydrogen


  1. Commercial preparation

–           From ethene

Ethene is obtained by the cracking of petroleum. It is then absorbed in 95% H2SO4 at 80C and

30 atoms to form C2H5HSO4

C2H4  +  H2SO4              C2H3HSO4

The C2H3HSO4 is bedded in water to produce ethanol; C2H3HSO4 + H2O               C2H3OH + H2SO4.


The ethanol is distilled off leaving the acid behind which can be used again.

-Preparation by fermentation ethanol is prepared industrially from raw materials containing

starch or sugar by the process of fermentation.

-The fermentation is an enzymatic process which involves the decomposition of large organic

molecules to simple molecule by micro-organism.

-The common micro-organism used is YEAST



  1. Name three (3) types of alkanol and give one example each.
  2. State two methods by which ethanol can be prepared industrially.


(e.g. rice, potatoes, maize etc)

The following steps are involved;

Then add yeast at room temperature for some time (at least one day).  Yeast contains two enzymes,

namely MALTASE and ZYMASE.  Maltase converts maltose to two glucose units, while zymase converts the glucose to ethanol and carbon (iv) oxide.

C12H22O11  +  H2maltase                2C6H12O6

C6 H12 O6    Zymase                    2C2H3OH   +   CO2



  1. Describe fully, the production of ethanol from a named starchy material/food.
  2. What type of chemical reaction is involved in fermentation of sugar?



  1. Ethanol is a colourless volatile liquid.
  2. It is soluble in water.
  3. It has boiling point of 78C.
  4. It has no action on litmus paper.



  1. Combustion: the lower members of alkanols burn with clean flames in plenty air

2CH3OH  +  3O2                2CO2            4 +H2O

  1. Oxidation

The products of oxidation depend on the structure of the alkanol.

–           Primary alkanols are oxidized to alkanol first and then to alkanoic acid in the presence of oxidizing agent e.g KNnO4

CH3CH2OH        O           CH3CHO            O           CH3COOH

–           Secondary alkanols oxidize to ketone e.g.

R                                                          R


R          C          OH       [O]                    R        C   = O  +  H2O




CH3                                           CH3


CH3       C          OH         [O ]               CH3        C  = O  +   H2O




Propon-2-ol                              propanone


–           Tertiary alkanols are not oxidized because there is no carbon-hydrogen bond to be broken for the oxidation to take place.


N.B:      Note the colour change of oxidizing agent if acidified.

–           Purple KMnO4 changes to colourless.

–           Orange K2Cr2O7 turns green.


  1. Esterification

This is the reversible reaction between alkanol and alkanoic and to produce ester.  The reaction is catalysed by conc H2SO4 e.g. CH3CH2OH  +  CH2COOCH2CH3  +  H2O


  1. Dehydration

Alkanols are dehydrated to alkenes in the presence of conc H2SO4

e.g. CH3CH2OH    + conc H2SO4 CH3CH2HSO4  +  H2O

CH3CH2HSO4170 C           C2H4  +  H2SO4


  1. Reaction with sodium and potassium

sodium and potassium react vigorously with alkanols to liberate hydrogen gas and form corresponding organic salt of sodium and potassium.

E.g.2C2H3OH  +  Na               2C2H3ONa  +  H2

N.B:   If sodium ethoxide reacts with water, it hydrolyses to ethanol and alkaline solution of NaOH.

  1. Reactions with the chlorides of phophorus: Ethanol reacts vigorously with PCl5 in the cold

to produce time of HCl and chloroethanevapour  C2H5OH + PCl5         C2H3Cl  +  POCl3  + HCl

-PCl3 gives a similar reaction, but less vigorous C2H5OH  +  PCL3             3C2H5Cl   +  H3PO3.



  1. It is used as organic solvent
  2. It is the main constituent of methylated spirit used to clean wounds and to dissolve paint.
  3. It is used as petrol addictive for use as fuel in vehicles.
  4. Used to manufacture other chemicals such as ethanol and ethanoic acid.
  5. It is used as ingredient in making alcoholic drinks e.g. beers, wines and spirits.
  6. It is used as anti-freeze in automobile radiator because of its low freezing point (-117C).



–           It librates hydrogen gas on reacting with sodium methal.

–           It changes to alkanoic acid (primary alkanol) on exposure to air or reacting with oxidizing agent.



  1. State five (5) chemical properties of ethanol.

2a.       Identify two (2) physical properties of ethanol

  1. State two (2) uses of alkannol.



  1. The functional groups of the alkanol is
  2. CnH2n + 1 OH     B.  carboxylic group    C.  hydroxyl group    D.  CnH2n+ 2
  3. Primary alkanols are oxidized to carbonylic acid, secondary alkanols are oxidized to alkanones while tertiary alkanols are A.  oxidized to alkanols    B.  oxidized to alkanones    C.  not oxidized    D.  oxidized to alkene
  4. The soluble of alkanols in water is due to
  5. the covalent nature    B.  hydrogen bonding    C.  their low melting point
  6. their low melting point
  7. When acidified KMnO4 is used as oxidizing agent for alkanol, the colour change observed is
  8. yellow to red     B.  purple to colourless    C.  orange to green    D.  white to black
  9. Which of the following enzymes converts glucose to ethanol?
  10. maltose       B.  zymase        C.  diastase       D.  amylase



1(a)      Write the structural formula of two named secondary alkanols.

(b)      Explain the structural difference between primary and tertiary alkanols.

2(a)      What is fermentation?

(b)      Describe the preparation of ethanol from table sugar.


See also




Saturated Hydrocarbons



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