What is the mechanism for ethers being synthesized via acid-catalyzed condensation of alcohols? SN2
The mechanism of the sulfuric acid process involves the following five steps.
1. Sulfuric acid dissociates, giving a proton plus the bisulfate ion.
2. The alcohol's oxygen atom is protonated via an acid‐base reaction, leading to the formation of an oxonium ion.
3. The oxonium ion decomposes, generating a 3° carbocation and water. Because carbocations are planar, this decomposition destroys the steric hindrance effect that the t‐butyl group created.
4. In this step, the acid‐base reaction between the carbocation and a second molecule of alcohol takes place, which forms an oxonium ion.
5. The oxonium ion liberates a proton to yield the ether.