Synthesis of Isopentyl Acetate

The synthesis (preparation) of new compounds is a hallmark of organic chemistry. Some synthetic compounds have commercial value, but most synthetic compounds have been made in order to learn how organic chemicals behave.

In this experiment you will attempt to produce isopentyl acetate, a naturally occurring, strongly scented compound, by refluxing isopentyl alcohol with acetic acid in the presence of an acid catalyst. The product is isolated using a combination of techniques — acid-base extraction, drying, and distillation — and is characterized by its boiling temperature, IR and NMR spectra.

Time required: 3 laboratory sessions