Pentanol is an alcohol with five carbon atoms and a single hydroxyl group. The location of the hydroxyl group relative to the carbon atoms determines whether the molecule is 1-petanol, 2-pentanol or 3-pentanol.
A 1-pentanol features a hydroxyl group bonded to the carbon atom at either end of the alkyl chain. It is colorless and possesses an unpleasant aroma. It reacts with acids to produce esters having fruity scents. Reacting 1-pentanol with butyric acid produces pentyl butyrate, which smells like apricot. A 1-pentanol reacted with acetic acid produces amyl acetate, which smells like bananas.
A 2-Pentanol features a hydroxyl group attached to the carbon atom directly preceding the last one on either end of the carbon chain. It is used as a solvent and precursor in the production of different organic chemicals. It is often mixed with other alcohols in industrial-grade amyl alcohol solutions.
A 3-pentanol is an isomer where the hydroxyl group is attached to the middle atom in the carbon chain. The isomers of pentanol are prepared through the fraction distillation of fusel oil.
As of 2015, researchers are trying to discover cost-effective methods of using fermenting bacteria to biologically synthesize pentanol. Pentanol is used as a clear solvent for the scratch-resistant coating applied to optical disks.