Ethylene glycol, a simple diol

A diol or glycol is a chemical compound containing two hydroxyl groups (—OH groups) [1]

A geminal diol has two hydroxyl groups bonded to the same atom. Examples include methanediol H2C(OH)2 and 1,1,1,3,3,3-hexafluoropropane-2,2-diol (F3C)2C(OH)2, the hydrated form of hexafluoroacetone.

A vicinal diol is a diol with two hydroxyl groups in vicinal positions, that is, attached to adjacent atoms. Examples include 1,2-ethanediol or ethylene glycol HO—(CH2)2—OH, a common ingredient of antifreeze products; and propane-1,2-diol or alpha propylene glycol, HO—CH2—CH(OH)—CH3 used in the food and medicine industry as well as a relatively non-poisonous antifreeze product.

Examples of diols in which the hydroxyl functional groups are more widely separated include 1,4-butanediol HO—(CH2)4—OH and bisphenol A, and propylene-1,3-diol or beta propylene glycol, HO-CH2-CH2-CH2-OH.



Diols can be:

  • Linear or branched;
  • Aliphatic or aromatic (bisphenol A).

Examples of aliphatic diols:

Linearity of the diol Hydroxyls on adjacent carbons (vicinal diols) Hydroxyls on non-adjacent carbons
Linear Ethylene glycol 1,3-Propanediol, 1,4-Butanediol, 1,5-Pentanediol, 1,8-octanediol,
Branched 1,2-Propanediol, 1,2-Butanediol, 2,3-Butanediol 1,3-Butanediol, 1,2-pentanediol, Etohexadiol, p-Menthane-3,8-diol, 2-Methyl-2,4-pentanediol


Because diols are a common functional group arrangement, numerous methods of preparation have been developed.

  • Vicinal diols can be produced from the oxidation of alkenes, usually with dilute acidic potassium permanganate, also known as potassium manganate(VII). Using alkaline potassium manganate(VII) produces a colour change from clear deep purple to clear green; acidic potassium manganate(VII) turns clear colourless.
  • Osmium tetroxide can similarly be used to oxidize alkenes to vicinal diols.
  • Hydrogen peroxide reacts with an alkene to the epoxide and then by saponification to the diol for example in the synthesis of trans-cyclohexanediol batch[2] or by microreactor [3]:
cyclohexanediol synthesis
Prevost reaction


General diols

Diols react as alcohols, by esterification and ether formation.

Diols such as ethylene glycol are used as co-monomers in polymerization reactions forming polymers including some polyesters and polyurethanes. A different monomer with two identical functional groups, such as a dioyl dichloride or dioic acid is required to continue the process of polymerization through repeated esterification processes.

A diol can be converted to cyclic ether by using an acid catalyst, this is diol cyclization. Firstly, it involves protonation of the hydroxyl group. Then, followed by intramolecular nucleophilic substitution, the second hydroxyl group attacks the electron deficient carbon. Provided that there are enough carbon atoms that the angle strain is not too much, a cyclic ether can be formed.


Diol cyclization.svg

Vicinal diols

In glycol cleavage, the C-C bond in a vicinal diol is cleaved with formation of ketone or aldehyde functional groups. See Diol oxidation.

Geminal diols

In general, organic geminal diols readily dehydrate to form a carbonyl group. For example, carbonic acid ((HO)2C=O) is unstable and has a tendency to convert to carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O). Nevertheless, in rare situations the chemical equilibrium is in favor of the geminal diol. For example, when formaldehyde (H2C=O) is dissolved in water the geminal diol (H2C(OH)2), methanediol, is favored. Other examples are the cyclic geminal diols decahydroxycyclopentane (C5(OH)10) and dodecahydroxycyclohexane (C6(OH)12), which are stable, whereas the corresponding oxocarbons (C5O5 and C6O6) do not seem to be.

See also


  1. ^ March, Jerry (1985), Advanced Organic Chemistry: Reactions, Mechanisms, and Structure (3rd ed.), New York: Wiley, ISBN 0-471-85472-7 
  2. ^ trans-cyclohexanediol Organic Syntheses, Coll. Vol. 3, p.217 (1955); Vol. 28, p.35 (1948) http://www.orgsynth.org/orgsyn/pdfs/CV3P0217.pdf.
  3. ^ Advantages of Synthesizing trans-1,2-Cyclohexanediol in a Continuous Flow Microreactor over a Standard Glass Apparatus Andreas Hartung, Mark A. Keane, and Arno Kraft J. Org. Chem. 2007, 72, 10235-10238 doi:10.1021/jo701758p

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • diol — diol …   Dictionnaire des rimes

  • diol — [ diɔl; djɔl ] n. m. • 1929; de di et (alco)ol ♦ Chim. ⇒ dialcool. ● diol nom masculin Synonyme de dialcool. ● diol (synonymes) nom masculin Synonymes : dialcool …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Diol — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Se denomina diol a los alcoholes que tienen dos grupos hidroxilo; por lo tanto entran dentro de la categoría de polioles. Obtenido de Diol Categoría: Alcoholes …   Wikipedia Español

  • Diol — L éthylène glycol, un diol simple. La résorcine …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Diol — Strukturformel des zweiwertigen Alkohols Ethylenglykol Diole sind organische Verbindungen, die zwei Hydroxylgruppen (–OH) enthalten, also zweiwertige Alkohole sind. Das einfachste Diol ist das Aldehydhydrat des Formaldehyd, das jedoch nur in… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • -diol — 1. Suffix form of the prefix dihydroxy. 2. A member of a class of compounds containing two hydroxyl groups. gym diol, gym diol a compound in which both hydroxyl groups are attached to the same carbon atom; an intermediate i …   Medical dictionary

  • Diol — Di|ol [↑ di u. ↑ ol (1)], das; s, e; Syn.: zweiwertiger Alkohol: Gruppenbez. für acycl. oder cycl. org. Verb. mit zwei Hydroxygruppen im Molekül, z. B. Butan 1,3 diol, Benzoldiol, Dihydroxyaceton. Acycl. D. wurden früher als ↑ Glykole benannt, z …   Universal-Lexikon

  • diol — diolis statusas T sritis chemija formulė R(OH)₂ atitikmenys: angl. dihydroxylic alcohol; diol; glycol rus. гликоль; двухатомный спирт; диол ryšiai: sinonimas – dihidroksilinis alkoholis sinonimas – dvihidroksilis alkoholis sinonimas – glikolis …   Chemijos terminų aiškinamasis žodynas

  • diol — noun Etymology: International Scientific Vocabulary Date: 1920 a compound containing two hydroxyl groups …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • diol — /duy awl, ol/, n. Chem. glycol (def. 2). [1920 25; DI 1 + OL] * * * …   Universalium

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.