I was trying to determine the reaction mechanism behind the production of diethyl ether. Looking at the ethyl alcohol + sulphuric acid method, I have come to the following conclusions for the reaction steps:
The ethanol nucleophilic oxygen gets protonated by the addition of sulphuric acid. This is more favourable because of the high density of electrons surrounding the oxygen. The bond broken between the carbon and oxygen is also needed to form the bond with hydrogen.
Water is then released and the ethyl alcohol conjugate base is formed (H3C-CH2+). The remaining ethyl alcohol molecules can either react with the HSO4- or the ethyl conjugate... Since HSO4- is more stable than the ethyl conjugate, ethyl alcohol reacts with the ethyl conjugate. Carbon is more electronegative than hydrogen and is an electrophile. It is attracted to the oxygen from the ethyl alcohol and replaces the H, thus forming diethylether, H+ and H2O where the sulphuric acid essentially acts as a catalyst!
Am I correct in presenting the mechanism this way? If the sulphuric acid still remains in the solution, why does it not protonate the diethyl ether? Is it because the stability of the diethyl ether conjugate base is unstable?