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Dehydration of sucrose with sulfuric acid

 
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Concentrated sulfuric acid is added to sucrose forming carbon, steam and sulfur dioxide.

Discussion: 

Sucrose (table sugar) is placed in a beaker and concentrated sulfuric acid added. Soon an exothermic reaction takes places during which a column of carbon rises from the beaker with a cloud of steam and sulfur dioxide.

The name carbohydrate derives from the formula of sugars such as sucrose (C12H22O11 or C12(H2O)11) in which the formula appears to be a hydrate of carbon. In the presence of concentrated sulfuric acid sucrose is dehydrated to produce carbon and water. The heat of the reaction vaporizes the water causing the column of carbon to form.

Credits: 
  • Citation
    • Shakhashiri, B. Z. Chemical Demonstrations; University of Wisconsin Press: Madison, 1983; Vol. 1, pp 77-78.
  • Design, Text and Demonstrator
    • Gary Trammell, University of Illinois at Springfield, Springfield, IL 62794
  • Videographer/Editor
    • Steve Dykema, University of Illinois at Springfield, Springfield, IL 62794
  • Voice
    • Margaret Biddle, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, WI 53706
  • Audio Production
    • Greg Minix, University of Wisconsin–Madison, College of Engineering, Madison, WI 53706
    • Jerrold J. Jacobsen, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, WI 53706
Chemistry Domain: 
Chemical Compound: