Potassium oxide

Potassium oxide

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Encyclopedia
Potassium oxide is an ionic compound
Chemical compound
A chemical compound is a pure chemical substance consisting of two or more different chemical elements that can be separated into simpler substances by chemical reactions. Chemical compounds have a unique and defined chemical structure; they consist of a fixed ratio of atoms that are held together...

 of potassium
Potassium
Potassium is the chemical element with the symbol K and atomic number 19. Elemental potassium is a soft silvery-white alkali metal that oxidizes rapidly in air and is very reactive with water, generating sufficient heat to ignite the hydrogen emitted in the reaction.Potassium and sodium are...

 and oxygen
Oxygen
Oxygen is the element with atomic number 8 and represented by the symbol O. Its name derives from the Greek roots ὀξύς and -γενής , because at the time of naming, it was mistakenly thought that all acids required oxygen in their composition...

. This pale yellow solid, the simplest oxide of potassium, is a rarely encountered, highly reactive compound. Some materials of commerce, such as fertilizers and cements, are assayed assuming the percent composition that would be equivalent to K2O.

Production


Potassium oxide is produced from the reaction of oxygen and potassium; this reaction affords potassium peroxide
Potassium peroxide
Potassium peroxide is an inorganic compound with the molecular formula K2O2. It is formed as potassium reacts with oxygen in the air, along with potassium oxide and potassium superoxide ....

, K2O2. Treatment of the peroxide with potassium produces the oxide:
K2O2 + 2 K → 2 K2O

Alternatively and more conveniently, K2O is synthesized by heating potassium nitrate
Potassium nitrate
Potassium nitrate is a chemical compound with the formula KNO3. It is an ionic salt of potassium ions K+ and nitrate ions NO3−.It occurs as a mineral niter and is a natural solid source of nitrogen. Its common names include saltpetre , from medieval Latin sal petræ: "stone salt" or possibly "Salt...

 with metallic potassium:
2 KNO3 + 10 K → 6 K2O + N2

Potassium hydroxide
Potassium hydroxide
Potassium hydroxide is an inorganic compound with the formula KOH, commonly called caustic potash.Along with sodium hydroxide , this colorless solid is a prototypical strong base. It has many industrial and niche applications. Most applications exploit its reactivity toward acids and its corrosive...

 cannot be further dehydrated to the oxide.

Properties and reactions


K2O crystallises in the antifluorite structure. In this motif the positions of the anions and cations are reversed relative to their positions in CaF2
Calcium fluoride
Calcium fluoride is the inorganic compound with the formula CaF2. This ionic compound of calcium and fluorine occurs naturally as the mineral fluorite . It is the source of most of the world's fluorine. This insoluble solid adopts a cubic structure wherein calcium is coordinated to eight fluoride...

, with potassium ions coordinated to 4 oxide ions and oxide ions coordinated to 8 potassium. K2O is a basic oxide and reacts with water violently to produce the caustic potassium hydroxide
Potassium hydroxide
Potassium hydroxide is an inorganic compound with the formula KOH, commonly called caustic potash.Along with sodium hydroxide , this colorless solid is a prototypical strong base. It has many industrial and niche applications. Most applications exploit its reactivity toward acids and its corrosive...

. It is deliquescent and will absorb water from the atmosphere, initiating this vigorous reaction.

Fertilizers


The chemical formula K2O is used in the N-P-K (nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium) numbers on the labels of fertilizer
Fertilizer
Fertilizer is any organic or inorganic material of natural or synthetic origin that is added to a soil to supply one or more plant nutrients essential to the growth of plants. A recent assessment found that about 40 to 60% of crop yields are attributable to commercial fertilizer use...

s. Although K2O is the correct formula for potassium oxide, potassium oxide is not used as a fertilizer in these products. Normally, potassium chloride
Potassium chloride
The chemical compound potassium chloride is a metal halide salt composed of potassium and chlorine. In its pure state, it is odorless and has a white or colorless vitreous crystal appearance, with a crystal structure that cleaves easily in three directions. Potassium chloride crystals are...

, potassium sulfate
Potassium sulfate
Potassium sulfate is a non-flammable white crystalline salt which is soluble in water...

, or potassium carbonate
Potassium carbonate
Potassium carbonate is a white salt, soluble in water , which forms a strongly alkaline solution. It can be made as the product of potassium hydroxide's absorbent reaction with carbon dioxide. It is deliquescent, often appearing a damp or wet solid...

 is used as a fertilizer source for potassium. The percentage of K2O given on the label only represents the amount of potassium in the fertilizer if it was in the form of potassium oxide. Potassium oxide is about 83% potassium
Potassium
Potassium is the chemical element with the symbol K and atomic number 19. Elemental potassium is a soft silvery-white alkali metal that oxidizes rapidly in air and is very reactive with water, generating sufficient heat to ignite the hydrogen emitted in the reaction.Potassium and sodium are...

 by weight, but potassium chloride
Potassium chloride
The chemical compound potassium chloride is a metal halide salt composed of potassium and chlorine. In its pure state, it is odorless and has a white or colorless vitreous crystal appearance, with a crystal structure that cleaves easily in three directions. Potassium chloride crystals are...

, for instance, is only 52% potassium
Potassium
Potassium is the chemical element with the symbol K and atomic number 19. Elemental potassium is a soft silvery-white alkali metal that oxidizes rapidly in air and is very reactive with water, generating sufficient heat to ignite the hydrogen emitted in the reaction.Potassium and sodium are...

 by weight. Potassium chloride
Potassium chloride
The chemical compound potassium chloride is a metal halide salt composed of potassium and chlorine. In its pure state, it is odorless and has a white or colorless vitreous crystal appearance, with a crystal structure that cleaves easily in three directions. Potassium chloride crystals are...

 provides less potassium
Potassium
Potassium is the chemical element with the symbol K and atomic number 19. Elemental potassium is a soft silvery-white alkali metal that oxidizes rapidly in air and is very reactive with water, generating sufficient heat to ignite the hydrogen emitted in the reaction.Potassium and sodium are...

 than an equal amount of potassium oxide. Thus, if a fertilizer is 30% potassium chloride
Potassium chloride
The chemical compound potassium chloride is a metal halide salt composed of potassium and chlorine. In its pure state, it is odorless and has a white or colorless vitreous crystal appearance, with a crystal structure that cleaves easily in three directions. Potassium chloride crystals are...

 by weight, its standard potassium
Potassium
Potassium is the chemical element with the symbol K and atomic number 19. Elemental potassium is a soft silvery-white alkali metal that oxidizes rapidly in air and is very reactive with water, generating sufficient heat to ignite the hydrogen emitted in the reaction.Potassium and sodium are...

rating, based on potassium oxide, would be only 19%.