Industrial Production of Diethyl Ether from ethanol- WorldOfChemicals

Industrial Production of Diethyl Ether

Diethyl Ether is an ether class of organic compound. Basically, it has characteristics of colorless, volatile, sweet solvent-like smelling chemical. Diethyl Ether finds common use as a solvent as well as in various household products.


It is a colorless, highly volatile flammable liquid. It is commonly used as a solvent in laboratories and as a starting fluid for some engines. Diethyl ether is also a common solvent for the Grignard reaction in addition to other reactions involving organometallic reagents.


It is used extensively in the chemical industry and as an aerosol propellant. Diethyl ether was formerly used as a general anaesthetic, until non-flammable drugs were developed, such as halothane. It has been used as a recreational drug to cause intoxication.


It has been used for decades as an energy source in various countries like China, Japan, Korea, Egypt, and Brazil.


Domestically it can be produced from a variety of feedstocks, including biogas from organic waste. Because of its lack of carbon-to-carbon bonds, using Diethyl ether as an alternative to diesel can virtually eliminate particulate emissions and potentially negate the need for costly diesel particulate filters. Diethyl ether has a high cetane number of 85-96 and is used as a starting fluid, in combination with petroleum distillates for gasoline and Diesel engines because of its high volatility and low flash point.

Diethyl Ether Production Process


Diethyl ether can be prepared both in laboratories and on an industrial scale by the process called acid ether synthesis.


Ethanol is mixed with a strong acid like sulfuric acid (H2SO4). This strong acid dissociates in the aqueous environment producing H3O+(hydronium ions).


Later a hydrogen ion protonates the electronegative oxygen atom of the ethanol, giving the ethanol molecule a positive charge.


C2H5OH + H3O+C2H5OH2+ + H2O


A nucleophilic oxygen atom of unprotonated ethanol displaces a water molecule from the protonated (electrophilic) ethanol molecule, producing water, a hydrogen ion, and diethyl ether.


C2H5OH2+ + CH3CH2OH → H2O + H+ + C2H5OC2H5


This reaction must be carried out at temperatures lower than 150°C in order to ensure that an elimination product (ethylene) is not a product of the reaction. At higher temperatures, ethanol will dehydrate to form ethylene.


The reaction to make diethyl ether is reversible, so eventually, an equilibrium between reactants and products is achieved. Getting a good yield of ether, which in turn requires that ether is distilled out of the reaction mixture before it reverts to ethanol. uses cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By using this site, you agree to our Privacy Policy and our Terms of Use. X