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Alumni Posts

You Won’t Be Producing Adipic Acid

by Alumni Posts on February 17, 2012

in Academics

Our anatomy professor, Dr. Smith, has been telling Carly and me about all of the crazy things he did in organic chemistry lab for as long as I can remember. One time, he told us that he accidentally lit his lab book on fire.  (But don’t worry, he “only lost about 60 or 70 pages of it,” as he said with a laugh).  Yesterday, he was telling us about how he kept shaking his Grignard reaction flask until it spewed up and covered the ceiling in solution.  After laughing about Dr. Smith’s crazy lab stories, Carly and I were talking about how nothing that interesting ever happens in our labs.  And then, well, last night’s lab happened.

Last night in lab, we were producing adipic acid from cyclohexanone while using potassium permanganate as the solvent.  (Sounds fun, right?!)  Carly and I were following the procedure step-by-step, just as we were instructed to do.  For some reason, neither of our reaction flasks heated up to 30 degrees Celsius; however, as we were told, we continued with the procedure and put our flasks on our hotplates.  The temperature rose to 75, and then Carly took hers off the hotplate.  I was a little wary to take mine off, but I did.  I set it down, stepped back, and then the solution started bubbling and rising.  Carly and I were literally cowarding in the corner of the lab, fearing an explosion or something.  Then, the solution bubbled out over the flask, covering the glass and surrounding table in a brown, gooey mess.  About five to ten seconds later – I kid you not – Carly’s solution did the exact same thing.

I could not stop laughing about what I had just seen.  And I imagine that everyone else in lab who had seen the incident couldn’t stop laughing either.  It took forever to clean up, and there are still some brown stains in our flasks.  (I promise we’ll clean them better next week…) 

But don’t worry.  If you ever take organic chem 2 at Fontbonne University – which I know is at the very top of your bucket list – you won’t be producing adipic acid by using cyclohexanone and potassium permanganate.  As soon as that incident occurred, Professor Ritter said that she’d never do that lab again.  So I’m sorry Carly and I had to take all of the fun away from you.  But I’m not going to lie – we had a great time doing so. 

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

bondoking February 21, 2012 at 9:06 am

K permanganate would be the oxidizer, or oxidant. Was it dissolved in water? Water would be the solvent for it.

Keep up the fun times, and be safe

Courtney February 24, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Ahh, yes. Good catch. Water was the solvent, and KMnO4 was the oxidizer. I guess I was blogging too late at night! 🙂

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