How do we compare the degree of intermolecular force that operates in ethanol, to that which operates in glycerol, #"HOH"_2"CCH(OH)CH"_2"OH"#?

1 Answer
Feb 7, 2016

Clearly, glycerol, has a higher intermolecular force. There are several metrics we could use to determine this.


Compare the boiling point of ethyl alcohol, #H_3C-CH_2OH#, #"b.p" = 78 ""^@C# to that of glycerol, #"b.p" = 290 ""^@C#. Glycerol also has a much higher melting point (which I've forgotten!), and is much more syrupy and viscous.

All these data suggest that the intermolecular force that operates in glycerol should be much greater than that which operates in ethyl alcohol. The propensity of glycerol to hydrogen bond should be the determining factor. Why?