There are very many reasons why we should show interest in the study of alcohols. Ethyl alcohol, for example, it is used extensively for beverage purposes the word over in addition to being a very important raw material.
It also finds wide use as a solvent. Similarly, methanol, the simplest member of the family, is a very important industrial chemical that can be used as a solvent and for the manufacture of formaldehyde.
Scope and classification
The term alcohols normally refers to those saturated open chain aliphatic(acyclic) and alicyclic (carbocyclic) compounds which contain the hydroxyl(-O-H) functional group. In effect alcohols are derived from alkanes by replacing one or more hydrogen atoms by one or more hydroxyl groups.
The reaction of an alcohol is made possible by the presence of lone pairs of electrons on the oxygen atom with which the molecule acts as a Lewis base(electron donor). In addition to behaving as a lewis base, the -O-H group can also behave as a weak acid(proton donor). When only one – OH group is found in the molecule, the compound is referred to as monohydric alcohol. Dihydric and trihydric alcohols contain two and three -OH groups respectively per molecule.
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