In this lab a Fischer esterification reaction was performed using the reagents n-propyl alcohol and propionic acid to produce an ester product of n-propyl propionate in the presence of sulfuric acid. The ester product was characterized using odor and IR spectroscopy and was retained with a yield of 68.9%. The odor of the starting reagent propionic acid was described as unpleasant and similar to body odor. The odor of the product was described as fruity and sweet, which is in agreement with the characteristic odor of an ester. This indicates that the reaction went to completion and yielded the desired ester. IR spectroscopy also indicated characteristics of the ester product. Esters are characterized by a sharp, strong peak at 1740 cm-1, indicated a C=O, and one was seen at 1741 cm-1. In addition, a sharp, strong peak was described at 2972 cm-1 , which is typical of an alkyl C-H bond. In addition, the broad peak at 3000 cm-1 indicated the presence of a carboxylic acid O-H bond and a broad peak with medium to strong intensity at 3300 cm-1 indicating an alcohol O-H were not seen on IR spectroscopy. The odor and IR spectroscopy indicate successful completion of the esterification reaction to yield n-propyl propionate.
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