The chemistry of ALCOHOLS
Chemistry Advanced Level Pre-University Chemistry Revision Study Notes for UK
KS5 A/AS GCE IB advanced level organic chemistry students US K12 grade 11 grade 12 organic chemistry
The uses of alcohols
and occurrence in biological molecules - biochemistry
All advanced A level organic
notes on the chemistry of alcohols
Index of GCSE level Oil - Useful Products
Chemistry Revision Notes
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Examples of uses of alcohols
I've already written notes on the many
uses of alcohols, so below are some links plus a few extra examples.
Use as solvents, fuels and drinks
Ethanol is used as a solvent in
aftershaves, cleaning fluids as well as the main ingredient in alcoholic
Alcohols, Ethanol, manufacture, uses - including use as solvent and the
alcoholic drinks industry
Biofuels & alternative fuels,
hydrogen, biogas, bioethanol, biodiesel
See also Part 4.3
properties including solubility and intermolecular forces
Esters, chemistry and uses
including perfumes, solvents
also Part 4.6
Reactions carboxylic acids to form esters
Methanol is highly toxic and added to
'methylated spirits' (industrial spirits solvent, mainly ethanol) so it
is unfit for human consumption, but it isn't taxed!.
Methylated spirits are used for
removing paint or ink stains and as a fuel in spirit burners-camping
Methanol is used as a clean
burning fuel and is added to the mainly hydrocarbon fuel of high
performance racing cars.
Methanol is an important
feedstock for the chemical industry and converted into other useful
intermediate compounds like methanal and ethanoic acid, both of
which used to manufacture other products from polymers to esters.
Ethanol is used in antibacterial and
antiviral hand gels - hand sanitizers, disinfectant sprays,
The occurrence of alcohols in biological molecules - biochemistry
Alcohols are usually encountered
as a part of ester molecules e.g. in fruit flavours and fragrances.
See Part 6.8.5
- preparation, reactions including hydrolysis and
and Part 6.14
More on the uses of carboxylic acids
and ester derivatives and occurrence in
find the alcohol group in sex hormones e.g. testosterone (shown on the
There are three functional groups in the molecule.
Ketone, alkene and secondary alcohol.
which contains the
alcohol group –OH is a sterol, a sub–group of organic molecules called
steroids (BUT not the body building type of steroid!, more to do with
the metabolism of fats!). Cholesterol is an essential steroid–sterol to humans but if
too much is produced it can cause heart disease.
image on the right gives the skeletal formula structure of cholesterol. Also note the 'alkene' double
bond functional group to the right of the –OH hydroxy functional group -
which is actually a secondary alcohol group.
image from NIST]
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