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Topic 2


The reactions of alcohols are used to introduce basic ideas about organic compounds. Alcohols
were selected for this introduction because, unlike alkanes, their chemistry is rewarding in terms
of the variety of changes that can be observed. Substitution and esterification are left to later
topics so the reactions studied are essentially a continuation of the oxidation-reduction theme in
topic 1.
2.1 The chemists’ toolkit: naming carbon compounds. Bonding in alkanes, molecular,
structural and displayed formulae, structural isomers, names of compounds containing
carbon atom chains, names for: primary, secondary and tertiary alcohols.
2.2 Reactions of alcohols. Experiments with alcohols: solubility, reaction with sodium,
oxidation, dehydration; preparation of propene, propanal and propanoic acid from
2.3 How much? Molar masses of organic compounds; laboratory preparation of cyclohexene
from cyclohexanol (including microscale option).
2.4 Background reading. The history of alcohol.


Students may be asked to:
a demonstrate understanding of:
    1. the nomenclature and corresponding structural and displayed formulae of straight chain alkanes and alkenes
    1. the nomenclature and corresponding structural and displayed formulae for primary, secondary and tertiary alcohols, aldehydes and ketones.
    1. iii the following terms as associated with the structure of organic molecules: molecular formulae; structural formulae; displayed formulae; structural isomers; functional group, homologous series.
    1. the following terms as associated with organic reactions: oxidation and reduction, elimination reactions
  1. b recall the major properties associated with covalent bonding
  2. c interpret the physical properties of alcohols as characteristic of covalent compounds
  3. d recall the typical behaviour of alcohols limited to:
  4. i combustion
  5. ii solubility in water
  6. iii treatment with sodium
  7. iv oxidation to carboxylic acids, aldehydes and ketones
  8. v results of testing oxidation products with Benedict’s solution
  9. vi dehydration to alkene
  10. e perform calculations of reacting quantities involving organic compounds and percentage
  11. yield
  12. f evaluate information by extraction from text and the Book of Data about the properties and
  13. uses of alcohol (examined in the synoptic paper only).