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Alcohols contain the ­OH functional group.

Their name ends in ­ol.

Homologous series: alcohol

Functional group: -OH hydroxyl

An alcohol is primary, secondary or tertiary.

It is the position of the ­OH group which determines the classification.

Type of Alcohol Position of ­OH group Example
Primary At end of…

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Oxidation of Alcohols
The ­OH group can be oxidised by using acidified potassium dichromate.

This process is called oxidation.

The ­OH group is oxidised to a carbonyl group.

The orange dichromate ion is reduced to green.

During the oxidation reaction two hydrogen atoms are removed ­ one from the oxygen…

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The Products of Oxidation
The product depends on the type of alcohol used.

Primary alcohol aldehyde carboxylic acid
If the aldehyde is required it can be distilled out of the reaction mixture as it is produced, in
order to prevent further oxidation.

Secondary alcohol ketone
It is difficult to oxidise…

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Dehydration of Alcohols
Alcohols lose a molecule of water to produce an alkene.

This is known as dehydration.

Dehydration is an example of an elimination reaction.


Ethanol vapour is passed over a hot catalyst of aluminium oxide, Al2O3.

The catalyst provides a large surface area for the reaction.



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