What happens when you react liquid pentanol (C5H11OH) and gaseous oxygen?

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ncchemist eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Pentanol is a liquid hydrocarbon composed mostly of carbon and hydrogen atoms and has the chemical formula C5H11OH.  Gaseous oxygen (also know as molecular oxygen) is a diatomic molecule composed of two oxygen atoms with the formula O2).  If you mix these two chemicals under standard conditions (room temperature and atmospheric pressure), absolutely nothing will happen.  But the addition of a tiny spark will ignite the chemical reaction known as combustion.  This is the burning (or spontaneous oxidation) of a fuel source (like pentanol) in the presence of oxygen to produce carbon dioxide and water vapor.  The reaction is depicted chemically below:

C5H11OH + (15/2)O2 --> 5CO2 + 6H2O

To remove the fraction from the coefficient in front of the oxygen species, multiply the entire equation by 2:

2C5H11OH + 15O2 --> 10CO2 + 12H20


jerichorayel | Student

One reaction of pentanol with gaseous oxygen is the combustion reaction. Combustion of pentanol is only possible in the presence of oxygen and flame. 

Complete combustion of pentanol will produce carbon dioxide and water. The reaction is written as:


`2 C_5 H_11 OH + 15 O_2 -> 10 CO_2 + 12 H_2 O. `

Incomplete combustion of pentanol happens when oxygen is the limiting reactant.  This happens when the supply of oxygen gas is poor. Consequently, the reaction will still produce H2O and but carbon monoxide and carbon is produced along with carbon dioxide.  

In normal atmospheric conditions (at room temperature and 1 atm), pentanol usually do not react with gaseous oxygen (O2) to form products. To oxidize pentanol, stronger oxidants are used such as potassium permanganate or chromic acid. 

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