Diethyl succinate is a colorless liquid with the formula C 8 H 14 O 4 . The organic molecule
contains two ester groups and occurs naturally in both plant and animal tissues. Diethyl
succinate plays a key role in the Krebs cycle, which is a component of metabolism. Since it is
low in molecular weight, this ester is commonly used in fragrances
Diethyl succinate is formed during an esterification reaction between a carboxylic acid and an
RCOOH + R'OH ↔ RCOOR' + water
Fisher esterification is a common method of synthesis in which the carboxylic acid reacts
with an alcohol in the presence of a dehydrating reagent. The dehydrating reagent removes
water from the reaction, thus pushing the equilibrium toward producing more ester. This
takes advantage of le Chatelier's principles.
For diethyl succinate, the carboxylic acid involved is succinic acid, or butanedioic acid,
which is a dicarboxyllic acid. The alcohol involved is ethanol.
Diethyl succinate is a by-product of the fermentation of sugar. It is often present in fermented
wines and beers that have aged a long time. Diethyl succinate is also present in the citric acid
cycle. The ester bond acts as a good electron donor due to resonance, and therefore diethyl
succinate acts in the electron transport chain. Diethyl succinate is also present as an additive
in foods and synthetic flavourings and aromas.