Explanation of Hydrolysis in Chemistry

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Hydrolysis in chemistry means that a molecule is cleaved by the addition of water. Get an explanation for hydrolysis in chemistry with help from an experienced chemistry and science professional in this free video clip.

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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Robin Higgins, and this is an explanation of hydrolysis in chemistry. Alright, so, hydrolysis means that when one molecule is cleaved by the addition of water. So let's look at an example. Let's just take a typical ester. So we've got our carbonyl, we've got our ester functionality group, and we are going to cleave this with water. And one type of hydrolysis is under acidic conditions. So we're gonna do that too. So have a little bit of H+ in our reaction. So, the first step is that our carbonyl is protonated and is positively charged. So we've got our positively charged carbonyl here, ester, and then we still have H2O. Remember, we want to start with a positive charge because since we are in acid, we don't want to create any negative charges. So the second steps for the lone pairs of oxygen, come in and attack this carbonyl forcing one of these bonds up. So, our intermediate is going to have our alcohol group is now formed, this used to be the carbonyl, we still have our ester functionality, and now we also have positive charged water which has added. So, this is not very stable. Let's just have a generic base come in, and take away the hydrogen. So now we're formed our tetrahedral intermediate with our two alcohol groups and or ester. So now it doesn't really matter which one falls down, but let's go ahead and have our water addition. Just have one of these lone pairs, and this is, we have to get this ready to attack. So to get this ready to attack, we've got to make this ester portion positively charged. So remember we're in acid, so we're gonna have a lone pair attack this hydrogen. So now that we have this we have our alcohol methyl group, positively charged ester functionality, and we have our other alcohol. Now we're ready to have it collapse back in, reforming our carbonyl. So let's just take this guy, this lone pair, we're gonna have him come down and kick off this now ethanol. So, now we have our carbonyl, which still has the positively charged, because we still have our hydrogen here, and we have an OH here, because this is this guy, and we also now formed ethanol. And the last step of our reaction is we're just gonna have another generic base come in and take away this hydrogen, taking away the positive charge, so our final product of hydrolysis is this carboxylic acid plus ethanol. And remember, this is just one example of hydrolysis. The definition is when we have a molecule that gets cleaved by the addition of water. I'm Robin Higgins, and this has been an explanation of hydrolysis in chemistry.


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