What is the difference between standard esterification and fischer esterification?

1 Answer
Aug 25, 2016

What many chemistry students initially learn as "esterification" (the reaction of a carboxylic acid with an alcohol) is, in fact, Fischer esterification.


Fischer esterification is the formation of esters by nucleophilic acyl substitution, reacting a carboxylic acid with an alcohol using acid catalysis (typically sulphuric).

There are other types of esterification reactions as well, for example, reactions of alcohol with acyl halides or acid anhydrides. Another example is the preparation of vinyl acetate using palladium catalysed reaction of ethylene with acetic acid, which is commonly used on the industrial scale.