Definition of Fischer Esterification

Fischer esterification is a chemical reaction in which the carboxylic acid is esterified by heating it with alcohol. This process takes place in the presence of a strong acid that acts as a catalyst. This reaction is reversible and to obtain the maximum amount of product, either a large and excess amount of alcohol is used or the water has to be removed continuously.


The reaction process involves the protonation of the carbonyl that is brought about by the acid. This activates the carbonyl towards the nucleophilic attack. After that, the proton is transferred. A molecule of water is removed from the reaction and deprotonation takes place.

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