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Question 2

Why is sulphuric acid not used during the reaction of alcohols with KI?

Answer

In the presence of sulphuric acid (H2SO4), KI produces HI

2KI  +  H2SO4     →    2KHSO4  + 2HI

Since H2SO4 is an oxidizing agent, it oxidizes HI (produced in the reaction to I2).

2HI  + H2SO4    →  I2  +  SO2  +  H2O

As a result, the reaction between alcohol and HI to produce alkyl iodide cannot occur. Therefore, sulphuric acid is not used during the reaction of alcohols with KI. Instead, a non-oxidizing acid such as H3PO4 is used.

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