What is Pentanol? - Structure, Formula & Isomers

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  • 0:04 Pentanol Overview
  • 0:44 Constitutional Isomers
  • 1:03 Stereocenters
  • 2:20 Stereoisomers
  • 3:38 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Laura Foist

Laura has a Masters of Science in Food Science and Human Nutrition and has taught college Science.

In this lesson, we'll learn about the structure of pentanol and the several different forms that it can take, including constitutional isomers and stereoisomers.

Pentanol Overview

Banana flavors, nutty scents, a possible gasoline substitute? What do all of these have in common? These are all different forms of pentanol.

Pentanol is a generic term for any compound that has 5 carbons, all single bonds, and an alcohol. There are several different structures that pentanol can take, but they're all related due to the chemical formula of C5H11OH. The relationship that exists is called isomers. Isomers are compounds that have the same chemical formula but different structures. This can be in the form of constitutional isomers, where the bonds are actually rearranged, or they can be stereoisomers, where bonds on an atom are spatially different.

Constitutional Isomers

The different constitutional isomers of pentanol are as follows:

  • 1-pentanol
  • 2-pentanol
  • 3-pentanol
  • 2-methylbutan-1-ol
  • 3-methylbutan-1-ol
  • 2-methylbutan-2-ol
  • 2-methylbutan-3-ol
  • 2,2-dimethylpropanol


In order for a compound to have a stereoisomer there must be a stereocenter. So, for pentanol to have a stereocenter, the carbon must have 4 different substituents. So if a carbon has 2 hydrogens on it then it cannot be a stereocenter.

  • 1-pentanol has no stereoisomers because every carbon has at least 2 hydrogens connected
  • 2-pentanol has one stereocenter, on carbon 2
  • 3-pentanol has no stereocenters; carbon 3 appears like it may have a stereocenter, but it's attached to two identical ethyl groups (CH2CH3)
  • 2-methylbutan-1-ol has one stereocenter, on carbon 2
  • 3-methylbutan-1-ol has no stereocenters; it may appear as though carbon 3 should have a stereocenter but it's connected to two identical methyl groups
  • 2-methylbutan-2-ol has no stereocenters, because carbon 2 is connected to two identical methyl groups
  • 2-methylbutan-3-ol has one stereocenter, at carbon 3
  • 2,2-dimethylpropanol has no stereocenters; again it may appear as though carbon 2 should have a stereocenter, but since it is connected to 3 identical methyl groups it is not a stereocenter

Since 2-pentanol, 2-methylbutan-1-ol, and 2-methylbutan-3-ol each have 1 stereocenter, they each have additional isomers.

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