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I apologize if the question sounds weird. I'm in grade 10, and we were doing esters for organic chemistry. one needs sulphuric acid as a catalyst for the formation of esters...apparently due to it being a dehydrating agent. So....how does it hydrolysed...please someone explain this to me. While we're on this I read that sodium hydroxide can also break down an ester into its component parts...which is also hydrolysis. can we also hydrolyse starch by using sodium hydroxide?

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  • $\begingroup$ Starch does not have ester groups but rather acetal linkages. While esters hydrolyze in aqueous acid or base, acetals are stable to aqueous base and labile to aqueous mineral acid. $\endgroup$ – user55119 Feb 20 at 17:29
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the main interest of sulfuric acid in ester synthesis is to provide the catalyst $ \ce {H_3O^+} $;

It is true that sulfuric acid is a desiccant and could capture the water formed during the synthesis to displace the balance but given the small amounts added, this effect seems negligible to me.

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  • $\begingroup$ provide the catalyst? isn't sulphuric acid the catalyst? how does it hydrolyze starch? could we have also used sodium hydroxide for hydrolysing starch? $\endgroup$ – Arik Jahan Feb 20 at 14:29
  • $\begingroup$ with hydrochloric acid, the hydrolysis of starch is done in the same way so in sulfuric acid it is acid the catalyst $\endgroup$ – Nicolas Feb 20 at 14:36
  • $\begingroup$ ooohhh.....its a reversible reaction? that's why sulfuric acid works both ways? I see what I don't understand now...is....can sodium hydroxide also be used as a catalyst for this reaction? $\endgroup$ – Arik Jahan Feb 20 at 15:44

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