Is the esterification of glyceryl ethanoate a reversible equation?

1 Answer
Dec 4, 2015

Yes, the formation of glyceryl ethanoate is reversible.


The acid-catalyzed formation of any ester is a reversible reaction.

The general equation is

#underbrace("RCOOH")_color(red)("acid") + underbrace("R'OH")_color(red)("alcohol") stackrelcolor (blue)("acid")(⇌) underbrace("RCOOR'")_color(red)("ester") + underbrace("H"_2"O")_color(red)("water")#

To form glyceryl ethanoate, you would start with glycerol and ethanoic acid.

#underbrace("C"_3"H"_5("OH")_3)_color(red)("glycerol") + 3underbrace("CH"_3"COOH")_color(red)("ethanoic acid") stackrelcolor (blue)("acid")(⇌) underbrace("C"_3"H"_5("OCOCH"_3)_3)_color(red)("glyceryl ethanoate") + 3underbrace("H"_2"O")_color(red)("water")#

Since the reaction is reversible, you must use Le Châtelier's Principle to get a good yield of the ester.

You can do one of three things:

  1. Use a large excess of glycerol or
  2. Use a large excess of ethanoic acid or
  3. Remove the water as it is formed.

Each of these will shift the position to the right.