Is Ethanol Polar or Nonpolar?

Answer: Ethanol is a polar molecule due the presence of an -OH hydroxide group capable of hydrogen bonding due to the large electronegativity difference between hydrogen (2.20) and oxygen (3.44). This results in oxygen having a partial negative charge and hydrogen having a partial positive charge. 

Due to the capacity for hydrogen bonding, the compound forms strong intermolecular forces that lead to a melting point of -114˚C and a boiling point of 78˚C. This makes ethanol a liquid at standard temperature and pressure. It is also known by its chemical formula CH3-CH2-OH which represents the combination of the hydrogen chain and hydroxide group. An ethane-water solution is flammable when energy is input into the system, the amount of energy depends on the % of ethanol in the solution. Higher % of ethanol lowers the necessary temperature (ie. average energy of the particles) necessary to cause a fire. Ethanol is a chemical reactant/product for a wide variety of reactions for producing sulfuric acid to fermentation of organic materials.

Ethanol Ball and Stick Model
Ethanol Ball and Stick Model. Created with MolView.
How is ethanol utilized in the real world?

C2H6O has a wide variety of uses especially in medical applications where it is most widely utilized as an antiseptic and solvent. The first works because alcohol is able to disassociate the lipid bilayers and denature protein. The second is useful because some molecules need a solvent that is polar but not as polar as water. Alcohol is less polar due to the presence of extra CH3 groups and therefore is a good fit. Within research capacities ethanol is also utilized as a low-freezing carrier because it has a very low freezing point. Commonly known as Alcohol, this substance is oftentimes recreationally consumed in liquid form. The last major usage is as an engine fuel because it decreases the amount of tailpipe emissions.

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