Diethyl succinate is a colorless liquid with the formula C8H14O4 . 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
RCOOH + ROH ↔ RCOOR + water
Diethyl succinate is formed during an esterification reaction between a carboxylic acid and an alcohol.
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 dicarboxylic 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 flavorings and aromas.