Alcohols and Ethers

Alcohols and Ethers

Alcohols and ethers are isomeric, methanol, or methyl alcohol, is the simplest alcohol, which appears as a colourless liquid and has a distinctive smell. Traditionally, methanol has been primarily used for chemical production as either a feedstock or a solvent or cosolvent. Nowadays, it is considered one of the most useful chemical compounds. It is one of the most promising building blocks for obtaining more complex chemical structures such as acetic acid, methyl tertiary butyl ether, dimethyl ether and methylamine or for producing intermediates and synthetic hydrocarbons, including polymers and single-cell proteins.

Ethers are organic molecules in which two carbon groups are joined by an oxygen atom. Ethers, unlike alcohols, are generally non-reactive except toward combustion. Certain ethers also function well as anaesthetics, and they are relatively prevalent organic solvents. By distilling ethyl alcohol with sulphuric acid, ethyl ether is produced. Cleaning the crude ether with a saturated aqueous calcium chloride solution before treating it with sodium produces pure ether, which is needed for medical applications and in the production of Grignard reagents.

Metabolism of Alcohols

The biological and pathological effects of alcohol use on the human body are significantly influenced by alcohol metabolism. Alcohol dehydrogenase, cytochrome, and, to a lesser extent, catalase are the three primary enzymes involved in the oxidation of alcohol, all of which result in the production of acetaldehyde. The generation of acetaldehyde by microorganisms in the human gastrointestinal (GI) tract plays a significant role in alcohol-related carcinogenesis; hence, microbial alcohol metabolism is also crucial in addition to these three enzymes.

The major pathway of ethanol metabolism in the human body is oxidation to acetaldehyde by the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase. As ethanol is oxidised to acetaldehyde, NAD+ is reduced to NADH (Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide). Changes in the reduction/oxidation state of NAD during ethanol metabolism can have significant effects on liver function. Only about 2-10% of the absorbed alcohol is eliminated via the lungs and kidneys; the remaining 90% is metabolised by enzymatic oxidation, mainly in the liver.

Uses of Ether

Due to the tendency of ether to be highly soluble in both water and organic liquids, glycol ethers are frequently used as solvents. Inks and dyes, enamels, paints, and cleaning solutions for the dry cleaning and glass cleaning industries are just a few examples of common usage. These substances are also widely used as cleaners and solvents in the semiconductor industry, and as dispersing agents and solvents for lacquers, paints, resins, dyes, oils, and greases, propylene and butylene glycol ethers are useful.

In addition, ethanol is employed in the dyeing and printing of textiles, as a finishing agent for leather, as an anti-icing additive in aviation fuel, and as a component of varnish removers and cleaning solutions. High-boiling solvents used in industry include ethylene glycol monobutyl ether and diethylene glycol monomethyl ether. It serves as a consolidating agent for latex paint in the painting sector and is employed in the textile sector for printing, textile soaps, dye pastes, twist settings, and fabric and yarn conditioning.

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