Introduction to Alkanals
Alkanals are also commonly referred to as aldehydes.
For example, ethanol can be oxidised to ethanal (an alkanal) by heating it with a few drops of acidified soldium dichromate(VI) solution until the colour of the solution changes from orange to green.1
Structure of Alkanals
Alkanals are very similar in structure to alkanoic acids, however, instead of a hydroxyl group, they have merely a hydrogen.
For example, the alkanal containing two carbon atoms is shown below.H O | // H - C - C | \ H H
Alkanals are named as follows:
- The number of carbon atoms in the longest carbon chain is noted
- The corresponding alkane is then named
- Finally, the name of this alkane is modified by removing the ane and replacing it with anal
Therefore, the alkanal shown above contains two carbon atoms in its longest carbon atom chain. The corresponding alkane is ethane. The ane is replaced with anal to give the alkanal its name: ethanal.
Reactions of Alkanals
Alkanals can be oxidised to form alkanoic acids in the presence of acidified sodium dichromate(VI) solution, an oxidising agent.
For example, ethanal can be oxidised to ethanoic acid.H O H O | // | // H - C - C → H - C - C | \ | \ H H H O - H
The extra oxygen comes from the oxidising agent used.