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Potassium

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Potassium, 19K
Potassium-2.jpg
Potassium pearls (in paraffin oil, ~5 mm each)
Potassium
Pronunciation/pəˈtæsiəm/ (pə-TASS-ee-əm)
Appearancesilvery white
Standard atomic weight Ar°(K)
  • 39.0983±0.0001
  • 39.098±0.001 (abridged)[1]
Potassium in the periodic table
Hydrogen Helium
Lithium Beryllium Boron Carbon Nitrogen Oxygen Fluorine Neon
Sodium Magnesium Aluminium Silicon Phosphorus Sulfur Chlorine Argon
Potassium Calcium Scandium Titanium Vanadium Chromium Manganese Iron Cobalt Nickel Copper Zinc Gallium Germanium Arsenic Selenium Bromine Krypton
Rubidium Strontium Yttrium Zirconium Niobium Molybdenum Technetium Ruthenium Rhodium Palladium Silver Cadmium Indium Tin Antimony Tellurium Iodine Xenon
Caesium Barium Lanthanum Cerium Praseodymium Neodymium Promethium Samarium Europium Gadolinium Terbium Dysprosium Holmium Erbium Thulium Ytterbium Lutetium Hafnium Tantalum Tungsten Rhenium Osmium Iridium Platinum Gold Mercury (element) Thallium Lead Bismuth Polonium Astatine Radon
Francium Radium Actinium Thorium Protactinium Uranium Neptunium Plutonium Americium Curium Berkelium Californium Einsteinium Fermium Mendelevium Nobelium Lawrencium Rutherfordium Dubnium Seaborgium Bohrium Hassium Meitnerium Darmstadtium Roentgenium Copernicium Nihonium Flerovium Moscovium Livermorium Tennessine Oganesson
Na

K

Rb
argonpotassiumcalcium
Atomic number (Z)19
Groupgroup 1: hydrogen and alkali metals
Periodperiod 4
Block  s-block
Electron configuration[Ar] 4s1
Electrons per shell2, 8, 8, 1
Physical properties
Phase at STPsolid
Melting point336.7 K ​(63.5 °C, ​146.3 °F)
Boiling point1030.793 K ​(757.643 °C, ​1395.757 °F)[2]
Density (near r.t.)0.89 g/cm3
when liquid (at m.p.)0.82948 g/cm3[2]
Critical point2223 K, 16 MPa[3]
Heat of fusion2.33 kJ/mol
Heat of vaporization76.9 kJ/mol
Molar heat capacity29.6 J/(mol·K)
Atomic properties
Oxidation states−1, +1 (a strongly basic oxide)
ElectronegativityPauling scale: 0.82
Ionization energies
  • 1st: 418.8 kJ/mol
  • 2nd: 3052 kJ/mol
  • 3rd: 4420 kJ/mol
  • (more)
Atomic radiusempirical: 227 pm
Covalent radius203±12 pm
Van der Waals radius275 pm
Color lines in a spectral range
Spectral lines of potassium
Other properties
Natural occurrenceprimordial
Crystal structurebody-centered cubic (bcc)
Body-centered cubic crystal structure for potassium
Speed of sound thin rod2000 m/s (at 20 °C)
Thermal expansion83.3 µm/(m⋅K) (at 25 °C)
Thermal conductivity102.5 W/(m⋅K)
Electrical resistivity72 nΩ⋅m (at 20 °C)
Magnetic orderingparamagnetic[4]
Molar magnetic susceptibility+20.8×10−6 cm3/mol (298 K)[5]
Young's modulus3.53 GPa
Shear modulus1.3 GPa
Bulk modulus3.1 GPa
Mohs hardness0.4
Brinell hardness0.363 MPa
CAS Number7440-09-7
History
Discovery and first isolationHumphry Davy (1807)
Symbol"K": from New Latin kalium
Main isotopes of potassium
Iso­tope Abun­dance Half-life (t1/2) Decay mode Pro­duct
39K 93.258% stable
40K 0.012% 1.248×109 y β 40Ca
ε 40Ar
β+ 40Ar
41K 6.730% stable
 Category: Potassium
| references

Potassium is the chemical element with the symbol K (from Neo-Latin kalium) and atomic number 19. Potassium is a silvery-white metal that is soft enough to be cut with a knife with little force.[6] Potassium metal reacts rapidly with atmospheric oxygen to form flaky white potassium peroxide in only seconds of exposure. It was first isolated from potash, the ashes of plants, from which its name derives. In the periodic table, potassium is one of the alkali metals, all of which have a single valence electron in the outer electron shell, that is easily removed to create an ion with a positive charge – a cation, that combines with anions to form salts. Potassium in nature occurs only in ionic salts. Elemental potassium reacts vigorously with water, generating sufficient heat to ignite hydrogen emitted in the reaction, and burning with a lilac-colored flame. It is found dissolved in sea water (which is 0.04% potassium by weight[7][8]), and occurs in many minerals such as orthoclase, a common constituent of granites and other igneous rocks.[9]

Potassium is chemically very similar to sodium, the previous element in group 1 of the periodic table. They have a similar first ionization energy, which allows for each atom to give up its sole outer electron. It was suspected in 1702 that they were distinct elements that combine with the same anions to make similar salts,[10] and this was proven in 1807 through using electrolysis. Naturally occurring potassium is composed of three isotopes, of which 40
K
is radioactive. Traces of 40
K
are found in all potassium, and it is the most common radioisotope in the human body.

Potassium ions are vital for the functioning of all living cells. The transfer of potassium ions across nerve cell membranes is necessary for normal nerve transmission; potassium deficiency and excess can each result in numerous signs and symptoms, including an abnormal heart rhythm and various electrocardiographic abnormalities. Fresh fruits and vegetables are good dietary sources of potassium. The body responds to the influx of dietary potassium, which raises serum potassium levels, with a shift of potassium from outside to inside cells and an increase in potassium excretion by the kidneys.

Most industrial applications of potassium exploit the high solubility in water of potassium compounds, such as potassium soaps. Heavy crop production rapidly depletes the soil of potassium, and this can be remedied with agricultural fertilizers containing potassium, accounting for 95% of global potassium chemical production.[11]

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Chemical element

Chemical element

A chemical element is a species of atoms that have a given number of protons in their nuclei, including the pure substance consisting only of that species. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical elements cannot be broken down into simpler substances by any chemical reaction. The number of protons in the nucleus is the defining property of an element, and is referred to as its atomic number – all atoms with the same atomic number are atoms of the same element. Almost all of the baryonic matter of the universe is composed of chemical elements. When different elements undergo chemical reactions, atoms are rearranged into new compounds held together by chemical bonds. Only a minority of elements, such as silver and gold, are found uncombined as relatively pure native element minerals. Nearly all other naturally occurring elements occur in the Earth as compounds or mixtures. Air is primarily a mixture of the elements nitrogen, oxygen, and argon, though it does contain compounds including carbon dioxide and water.

New Latin

New Latin

New Latin is the revival of Literary Latin used in original, scholarly, and scientific works since about 1500. Modern scholarly and technical nomenclature, such as in zoological and botanical taxonomy and international scientific vocabulary, draws extensively from New Latin vocabulary, often in the form of classical or neoclassical compounds. New Latin includes extensive new word formation. As a language for full expression in prose or poetry, however, it is often distinguished from its successor, Contemporary Latin.

Atomic number

Atomic number

The atomic number or nuclear charge number of a chemical element is the charge number of an atomic nucleus. For ordinary nuclei, this is equal to the proton number (np) or the number of protons found in the nucleus of every atom of that element. The atomic number can be used to uniquely identify ordinary chemical elements. In an ordinary uncharged atom, the atomic number is also equal to the number of electrons.

Alkali metal

Alkali metal

The alkali metals consist of the chemical elements lithium (Li), sodium (Na), potassium (K), rubidium (Rb), caesium (Cs), and francium (Fr). Together with hydrogen they constitute group 1, which lies in the s-block of the periodic table. All alkali metals have their outermost electron in an s-orbital: this shared electron configuration results in their having very similar characteristic properties. Indeed, the alkali metals provide the best example of group trends in properties in the periodic table, with elements exhibiting well-characterised homologous behaviour. This family of elements is also known as the lithium family after its leading element.

Hydrogen

Hydrogen

Hydrogen is the chemical element with the symbol H and atomic number 1. Hydrogen is the lightest element. At standard conditions hydrogen is a gas of diatomic molecules having the formula H2. It is colorless, odorless, tasteless, non-toxic, and highly combustible. Hydrogen is the most abundant chemical substance in the universe, constituting roughly 75% of all normal matter. Stars such as the Sun are mainly composed of hydrogen in the plasma state. Most of the hydrogen on Earth exists in molecular forms such as water and organic compounds. For the most common isotope of hydrogen each atom has one proton, one electron, and no neutrons.

Mineral

Mineral

In geology and mineralogy, a mineral or mineral species is, broadly speaking, a solid chemical compound with a fairly well-defined chemical composition and a specific crystal structure that occurs naturally in pure form.

Granite

Granite

Granite is a coarse-grained (phaneritic) intrusive igneous rock composed mostly of quartz, alkali feldspar, and plagioclase. It forms from magma with a high content of silica and alkali metal oxides that slowly cools and solidifies underground. It is common in the continental crust of Earth, where it is found in igneous intrusions. These range in size from dikes only a few centimeters across to batholiths exposed over hundreds of square kilometers.

Igneous rock

Igneous rock

Igneous rock, or magmatic rock, is one of the three main rock types, the others being sedimentary and metamorphic. Igneous rock is formed through the cooling and solidification of magma or lava.

Ionization energy

Ionization energy

In physics and chemistry, ionization energy (IE) (American English spelling), ionisation energy (British English spelling) is the minimum energy required to remove the most loosely bound electron of an isolated gaseous atom, positive ion, or molecule. The first ionization energy is quantitatively expressed asX(g) + energy ⟶ X+(g) + e−

Electrolysis

Electrolysis

In chemistry and manufacturing, electrolysis is a technique that uses direct electric current (DC) to drive an otherwise non-spontaneous chemical reaction. Electrolysis is commercially important as a stage in the separation of elements from naturally occurring sources such as ores using an electrolytic cell. The voltage that is needed for electrolysis to occur is called the decomposition potential. The word "lysis" means to separate or break, so in terms, electrolysis would mean "breakdown via electricity".

Isotope

Isotope

Isotopes are two or more types of atoms that have the same atomic number and position in the periodic table, and that differ in nucleon numbers due to different numbers of neutrons in their nuclei. While all isotopes of a given element have almost the same chemical properties, they have different atomic masses and physical properties.

Electrocardiography

Electrocardiography

Electrocardiography is the process of producing an electrocardiogram, a recording of the heart's electrical activity. It is an electrogram of the heart which is a graph of voltage versus time of the electrical activity of the heart using electrodes placed on the skin. These electrodes detect the small electrical changes that are a consequence of cardiac muscle depolarization followed by repolarization during each cardiac cycle (heartbeat). Changes in the normal ECG pattern occur in numerous cardiac abnormalities, including cardiac rhythm disturbances, inadequate coronary artery blood flow, and electrolyte disturbances.

Etymology

The English name for the element potassium comes from the word potash,[12] which refers to an early method of extracting various potassium salts: placing in a pot the ash of burnt wood or tree leaves, adding water, heating, and evaporating the solution. When Humphry Davy first isolated the pure element using electrolysis in 1807, he named it potassium, which he derived from the word potash.

The symbol K stems from kali, itself from the root word alkali, which in turn comes from Arabic: القَلْيَه al-qalyah 'plant ashes'. In 1797, the German chemist Martin Klaproth discovered "potash" in the minerals leucite and lepidolite, and realized that "potash" was not a product of plant growth but actually contained a new element, which he proposed calling kali.[13] In 1807, Humphry Davy produced the element via electrolysis: in 1809, Ludwig Wilhelm Gilbert proposed the name Kalium for Davy's "potassium".[14] In 1814, the Swedish chemist Berzelius advocated the name kalium for potassium, with the chemical symbol K.[15]

The English and French-speaking countries adopted Davy and Gay-Lussac/Thénard's name Potassium, whereas the Germanic countries adopted Gilbert/Klaproth's name Kalium.[16] The "Gold Book" of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry has designated the official chemical symbol as K.[17]

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Potash

Potash

Potash includes various mined and manufactured salts that contain potassium in water-soluble form. The name derives from pot ash, plant ashes or wood ash soaked in water in a pot, the primary means of manufacturing potash before the Industrial Era. The word potassium is derived from potash.

Humphry Davy

Humphry Davy

Sir Humphry Davy, 1st Baronet, was a British chemist and inventor who invented the Davy lamp and a very early form of arc lamp. He is also remembered for isolating, by using electricity, several elements for the first time: potassium and sodium in 1807 and calcium, strontium, barium, magnesium and boron the following year, as well as for discovering the elemental nature of chlorine and iodine. Davy also studied the forces involved in these separations, inventing the new field of electrochemistry. Davy is also credited to have been the first to discover clathrate hydrates in his lab.

Electrolysis

Electrolysis

In chemistry and manufacturing, electrolysis is a technique that uses direct electric current (DC) to drive an otherwise non-spontaneous chemical reaction. Electrolysis is commercially important as a stage in the separation of elements from naturally occurring sources such as ores using an electrolytic cell. The voltage that is needed for electrolysis to occur is called the decomposition potential. The word "lysis" means to separate or break, so in terms, electrolysis would mean "breakdown via electricity".

Alkali

Alkali

In chemistry, an alkali is a basic, ionic salt of an alkali metal or an alkaline earth metal. An alkali can also be defined as a base that dissolves in water. A solution of a soluble base has a pH greater than 7.0. The adjective alkaline, and less often, alkalescent, is commonly used in English as a synonym for basic, especially for bases soluble in water. This broad use of the term is likely to have come about because alkalis were the first bases known to obey the Arrhenius definition of a base, and they are still among the most common bases.

Martin Heinrich Klaproth

Martin Heinrich Klaproth

Martin Heinrich Klaproth was a German chemist. He trained and worked for much of his life as an apothecary, moving in later life to the university. His shop became the second-largest apothecary in Berlin, and the most productive artisanal chemical research center in Europe.

Leucite

Leucite

Leucite is a rock-forming mineral of the feldspathoid group, silica-undersaturated and composed of potassium and aluminium tectosilicate KAlSi2O6. Crystals have the form of cubic icositetrahedra but, as first observed by Sir David Brewster in 1821, they are not optically isotropic, and are therefore pseudo-cubic. Goniometric measurements made by Gerhard vom Rath in 1873 led him to refer the crystals to the tetragonal system. Optical investigations have since proved the crystals to be still more complex in character, and to consist of several orthorhombic or monoclinic individuals, which are optically biaxial and repeatedly twinned, giving rise to twin-lamellae and to striations on the faces. When the crystals are raised to a temperature of about 500 °C they become optically isotropic and the twin-lamellae and striations disappear, although they reappear when the crystals are cooled again. This pseudo-cubic character of leucite is very similar to that of the mineral boracite.

Lepidolite

Lepidolite

Lepidolite is a lilac-gray or rose-colored member of the mica group of minerals with chemical formula K(Li,Al)3(Al,Si,Rb)4O10(F,OH)2. It is the most abundant lithium-bearing mineral and is a secondary source of this metal. It is the major source of the alkali metal rubidium.

Ludwig Wilhelm Gilbert

Ludwig Wilhelm Gilbert

Ludwig Wilhelm Gilbert was a German physicist and chemist, and professor of physics at the University of Leipzig. From 1799-1824 he published the "Annalen der Physik", of which Poggendorffs "Annalen der Physik und Chemie" was a continuation.

Jöns Jacob Berzelius

Jöns Jacob Berzelius

Baron Jöns Jacob Berzelius was a Swedish chemist. Berzelius is considered, along with Robert Boyle, John Dalton, and Antoine Lavoisier, to be one of the founders of modern chemistry. Berzelius became a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1808 and served from 1818 as its principal functionary. He is known in Sweden as the "Father of Swedish Chemistry". Berzelius Day is celebrated on 20 August in honour of him.

International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry

International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry

The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry is an international federation of National Adhering Organizations working for the advancement of the chemical sciences, especially by developing nomenclature and terminology. It is a member of the International Science Council (ISC). IUPAC is registered in Zürich, Switzerland, and the administrative office, known as the "IUPAC Secretariat", is in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, United States. This administrative office is headed by IUPAC's executive director, currently Lynn Soby.

Properties

Physical

The flame test of potassium.
The flame test of potassium.

Potassium is the second least dense metal after lithium. It is a soft solid with a low melting point, and can be easily cut with a knife. Freshly cut potassium is silvery in appearance, but it begins to tarnish toward gray immediately on exposure to air.[18] In a flame test, potassium and its compounds emit a lilac color with a peak emission wavelength of 766.5 nanometers.[19]

Neutral potassium atoms have 19 electrons, one more than the configuration of the noble gas argon. Because of its low first ionization energy of 418.8 kJ/mol, the potassium atom is much more likely to lose the last electron and acquire a positive charge, although negatively charged alkalide K ions are not impossible.[20] In contrast, the second ionization energy is very high (3052 kJ/mol).

Chemical

Potassium reacts with oxygen, water, and carbon dioxide components in air. With oxygen it forms potassium peroxide. With water potassium forms potassium hydroxide. The reaction of potassium with water can be violently exothermic, especially since the coproduced hydrogen gas can ignite. Because of this, potassium and the liquid sodium-potassium (NaK) alloy are potent desiccants, although they are no longer used as such.[21]

Compounds

Structure of solid potassium superoxide (KO2).
Structure of solid potassium superoxide (KO2).

Four oxides of potassium are well studied: potassium oxide (K2O), potassium peroxide (K2O2), potassium superoxide (KO2)[22] and potassium ozonide (KO3). The binary potassium-oxygen compounds react with water forming potassium hydroxide KOH.

Potassium hydroxide is a strong base. Illustrating its hydrophilic character, as much as 1.21 kg of KOH can dissolve in a single liter of water.[23][24] Anhydrous KOH is rarely encountered. KOH reacts readily with carbon dioxide CO2 to produce potassium carbonate K2CO3, and in principle could be used to remove traces of the gas from air. Like the closely related sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide reacts with fats to produce soaps.

In general, potassium compounds are ionic and, owing to the high hydration energy of the K+ ion, have excellent water solubility. The main species in water solution are the aquo complexes [K(H2O)n]+ where n = 6 and 7.[25]

Potassium heptafluorotantalate K2[TaF7] is an intermediate in the purification of tantalum from the otherwise persistent contaminant of niobium.[26]

Organopotassium compounds illustrate nonionic compounds of potassium. They feature highly polar covalent K–C bonds. Examples include benzyl potassium KCH2C6H5. Potassium intercalates into graphite to give a variety of graphite intercalation compounds, including KC8.

Isotopes

There are 25 known isotopes of potassium, three of which occur naturally: 39
K
(93.3%), 40
K
(0.0117%), and 41
K
(6.7%) (by mole fraction). Naturally occurring 40
K
has a half-life of 1.250×109 years. It decays to stable 40
Ar
by electron capture or positron emission (11.2%) or to stable 40
Ca
by beta decay (88.8%).[27] The decay of 40
K
to 40
Ar
is the basis of a common method for dating rocks. The conventional K-Ar dating method depends on the assumption that the rocks contained no argon at the time of formation and that all the subsequent radiogenic argon (40
Ar
) was quantitatively retained. Minerals are dated by measurement of the concentration of potassium and the amount of radiogenic 40
Ar
that has accumulated. The minerals best suited for dating include biotite, muscovite, metamorphic hornblende, and volcanic feldspar; whole rock samples from volcanic flows and shallow instrusives can also be dated if they are unaltered.[27][28] Apart from dating, potassium isotopes have been used as tracers in studies of weathering and for nutrient cycling studies because potassium is a macronutrient required for life[29] on Earth.

40
K
occurs in natural potassium (and thus in some commercial salt substitutes) in sufficient quantity that large bags of those substitutes can be used as a radioactive source for classroom demonstrations. 40
K
is the radioisotope with the largest abundance in the body. In healthy animals and people, 40
K
represents the largest source of radioactivity, greater even than 14
C
. In a human body of 70 kg, about 4,400 nuclei of 40
K
decay per second.[30] The activity of natural potassium is 31 Bq/g.[31]

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Flame test

Flame test

A flame test is an analytical procedure used in chemistry to detect the presence of certain elements, primarily metal ions, based on each element's characteristic emission spectrum. The color of flames in general also depends on temperature and oxygen fed; see flame color.

Lithium

Lithium

Lithium is a chemical element with the symbol Li and atomic number 3. It is a soft, silvery-white alkali metal. Under standard conditions, it is the least dense metal and the least dense solid element. Like all alkali metals, lithium is highly reactive and flammable, and must be stored in vacuum, inert atmosphere, or inert liquid such as purified kerosene or mineral oil. When cut, it exhibits a metallic luster, but moist air corrodes it quickly to a dull silvery gray, then black tarnish. It never occurs freely in nature, but only in compounds, such as pegmatitic minerals, which were once the main source of lithium. Due to its solubility as an ion, it is present in ocean water and is commonly obtained from brines. Lithium metal is isolated electrolytically from a mixture of lithium chloride and potassium chloride.

Melting point

Melting point

The melting point of a substance is the temperature at which it changes state from solid to liquid. At the melting point the solid and liquid phase exist in equilibrium. The melting point of a substance depends on pressure and is usually specified at a standard pressure such as 1 atmosphere or 100 kPa.

Lilac (color)

Lilac (color)

Lilac is a color that is a pale violet tone representing the average color of most lilac flowers. It can also be described as dark mauve or light blue. The colors of some lilac flowers may be equivalent to the colors shown below as pale lilac, rich lilac, or deep lilac. However, there are other lilac flowers that are colored red-violet.

Noble gas

Noble gas

The noble gases make up a class of chemical elements with similar properties; under standard conditions, they are all odorless, colorless, monatomic gases with very low chemical reactivity. The six naturally occurring noble gases are helium (He), neon (Ne), argon (Ar), krypton (Kr), xenon (Xe), and the radioactive radon (Rn).

Argon

Argon

Argon is a chemical element with the symbol Ar and atomic number 18. It is in group 18 of the periodic table and is a noble gas. Argon is the third-most abundant gas in Earth's atmosphere, at 0.934%. It is more than twice as abundant as water vapor, 23 times as abundant as carbon dioxide, and more than 500 times as abundant as neon. Argon is the most abundant noble gas in Earth's crust, comprising 0.00015% of the crust.

Ionization energy

Ionization energy

In physics and chemistry, ionization energy (IE) (American English spelling), ionisation energy (British English spelling) is the minimum energy required to remove the most loosely bound electron of an isolated gaseous atom, positive ion, or molecule. The first ionization energy is quantitatively expressed asX(g) + energy ⟶ X+(g) + e−

Alkalide

Alkalide

An alkalide is a chemical compound in which alkali metal atoms are anions with a charge or oxidation state of −1. Until the first discovery of alkalides in the 1970s, alkali metals were known to appear in salts only as cations with a charge or oxidation state of +1. These types of compounds are of theoretical interest due to their unusual stoichiometry and low ionization potentials. Alkalide compounds are chemically related to the electrides, salts in which trapped electrons are effectively the anions.

Potassium hydroxide

Potassium hydroxide

Potassium hydroxide is an inorganic compound with the formula KOH, and is commonly called caustic potash.

Hydrogen

Hydrogen

Hydrogen is the chemical element with the symbol H and atomic number 1. Hydrogen is the lightest element. At standard conditions hydrogen is a gas of diatomic molecules having the formula H2. It is colorless, odorless, tasteless, non-toxic, and highly combustible. Hydrogen is the most abundant chemical substance in the universe, constituting roughly 75% of all normal matter. Stars such as the Sun are mainly composed of hydrogen in the plasma state. Most of the hydrogen on Earth exists in molecular forms such as water and organic compounds. For the most common isotope of hydrogen each atom has one proton, one electron, and no neutrons.

Desiccant

Desiccant

A desiccant is a hygroscopic substance that is used to induce or sustain a state of dryness (desiccation) in its vicinity; it is the opposite of a humectant. Commonly encountered pre-packaged desiccants are solids that absorb water. Desiccants for specialized purposes may be in forms other than solid, and may work through other principles, such as chemical bonding of water molecules. They are commonly encountered in foods to retain crispness. Industrially, desiccants are widely used to control the level of water in gas streams.

Potassium oxide

Potassium oxide

Potassium oxide (K2O) is an ionic compound of potassium and oxygen. It is a base. This pale yellow solid is the simplest oxide of potassium. It is a highly reactive compound that is rarely encountered. Some industrial materials, such as fertilizers and cements, are assayed assuming the percent composition that would be equivalent to K2O.

Cosmic formation and distribution

Potassium in feldspar
Potassium in feldspar

Potassium is formed in supernovae by nucleosynthesis from lighter atoms. Potassium is principally created in Type II supernovae via an explosive oxygen-burning process.[32] (These are fusion reactions; do not confuse with chemical burning between potassium and oxygen.) 40
K
is also formed in s-process nucleosynthesis and the neon burning process.[33]

Potassium is the 20th most abundant element in the solar system and the 17th most abundant element by weight in the Earth. It makes up about 2.6% of the weight of the Earth's crust and is the seventh most abundant element in the crust.[34] The potassium concentration in seawater is 0.39 g/L[7] (0.039 wt/v%), about one twenty-seventh the concentration of sodium.[35][36]

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Feldspar

Feldspar

Feldspars are a group of rock-forming aluminium tectosilicate minerals, also containing other cations such as sodium, calcium, potassium, or barium. The most common members of the feldspar group are the plagioclase (sodium-calcium) feldspars and the alkali (potassium-sodium) feldspars. Feldspars make up about 60% of the Earth's crust, and 41% of the Earth's continental crust by weight.

Supernova

Supernova

A supernova is a powerful and luminous explosion of a star. It has the plural form supernovae or supernovas, and is abbreviated SN or SNe. This transient astronomical event occurs during the last evolutionary stages of a massive star or when a white dwarf is triggered into runaway nuclear fusion. The original object, called the progenitor, either collapses to a neutron star or black hole, or is completely destroyed. The peak optical luminosity of a supernova can be comparable to that of an entire galaxy before fading over several weeks or months.

Nucleosynthesis

Nucleosynthesis

Nucleosynthesis is the process that creates new atomic nuclei from pre-existing nucleons and nuclei. According to current theories, the first nuclei were formed a few minutes after the Big Bang, through nuclear reactions in a process called Big Bang nucleosynthesis. After about 20 minutes, the universe had expanded and cooled to a point at which these high-energy collisions among nucleons ended, so only the fastest and simplest reactions occurred, leaving our universe containing hydrogen and helium. The rest is traces of other elements such as lithium and the hydrogen isotope deuterium. Nucleosynthesis in stars and their explosions later produced the variety of elements and isotopes that we have today, in a process called cosmic chemical evolution. The amounts of total mass in elements heavier than hydrogen and helium remains small, so that the universe still has approximately the same composition.

Supernova nucleosynthesis

Supernova nucleosynthesis

Supernova nucleosynthesis is the nucleosynthesis of chemical elements in supernova explosions.

S-process

S-process

The slow neutron-capture process, or s-process, is a series of reactions in nuclear astrophysics that occur in stars, particularly asymptotic giant branch stars. The s-process is responsible for the creation (nucleosynthesis) of approximately half the atomic nuclei heavier than iron.

Earth's crust

Earth's crust

Earth's crust is Earth's thin outer shell of rock, regarding for less than 1% of Earth's radius and volume. It is the top component of the lithosphere, a division of Earth's layers that includes the crust and the upper part of the mantle. The lithosphere is broken into tectonic plates whose motion allows heat to escape from the interior of the Earth into space.

Potash

Potash is primarily a mixture of potassium salts because plants have little or no sodium content, and the rest of a plant's major mineral content consists of calcium salts of relatively low solubility in water. While potash has been used since ancient times, its composition was not understood. Georg Ernst Stahl obtained experimental evidence that led him to suggest the fundamental difference of sodium and potassium salts in 1702,[10] and Henri Louis Duhamel du Monceau was able to prove this difference in 1736.[37] The exact chemical composition of potassium and sodium compounds, and the status as chemical element of potassium and sodium, was not known then, and thus Antoine Lavoisier did not include the alkali in his list of chemical elements in 1789.[38][39] For a long time the only significant applications for potash were the production of glass, bleach, soap and gunpowder as potassium nitrate.[40] Potassium soaps from animal fats and vegetable oils were especially prized because they tend to be more water-soluble and of softer texture, and are therefore known as soft soaps.[11] The discovery by Justus Liebig in 1840 that potassium is a necessary element for plants and that most types of soil lack potassium[41] caused a steep rise in demand for potassium salts. Wood-ash from fir trees was initially used as a potassium salt source for fertilizer, but, with the discovery in 1868 of mineral deposits containing potassium chloride near Staßfurt, Germany, the production of potassium-containing fertilizers began at an industrial scale.[42][43][44] Other potash deposits were discovered, and by the 1960s Canada became the dominant producer.[45][46]

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Potash

Potash

Potash includes various mined and manufactured salts that contain potassium in water-soluble form. The name derives from pot ash, plant ashes or wood ash soaked in water in a pot, the primary means of manufacturing potash before the Industrial Era. The word potassium is derived from potash.

Georg Ernst Stahl

Georg Ernst Stahl

Georg Ernst Stahl was a German chemist, physician and philosopher. He was a supporter of vitalism, and until the late 18th century his works on phlogiston were accepted as an explanation for chemical processes.

Antoine Lavoisier

Antoine Lavoisier

Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier, also Antoine Lavoisier after the French Revolution, was a French nobleman and chemist who was central to the 18th-century chemical revolution and who had a large influence on both the history of chemistry and the history of biology.

Gunpowder

Gunpowder

Gunpowder, also commonly known as black powder to distinguish it from modern smokeless powder, is the earliest known chemical explosive. It consists of a mixture of sulfur, carbon and potassium nitrate (saltpeter). The sulfur and carbon act as fuels while the saltpeter is an oxidizer. Gunpowder has been widely used as a propellant in firearms, artillery, rocketry, and pyrotechnics, including use as a blasting agent for explosives in quarrying, mining, building pipelines and road building.

Soap

Soap

Soap is a salt of a fatty acid used in a variety of cleansing and lubricating products. In a domestic setting, soaps are surfactants usually used for washing, bathing, and other types of housekeeping. In industrial settings, soaps are used as thickeners, components of some lubricants, and precursors to catalysts.

Potassium chloride

Potassium chloride

Potassium chloride is a metal halide salt composed of potassium and chlorine. It is odorless and has a white or colorless vitreous crystal appearance. The solid dissolves readily in water, and its solutions have a salt-like taste. Potassium chloride can be obtained from ancient dried lake deposits. KCl is used as a fertilizer, in medicine, in scientific applications, domestic water softeners, and in food processing, where it may be known as E number additive E508.

Staßfurt

Staßfurt

Staßfurt (Stassfurt) is a town in the Salzlandkreis district, in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. It is situated on both sides of the river Bode, approximately 15 km (9.3 mi) northeast of Aschersleben, and 30 km (19 mi) south of Magdeburg. Pop. (2005) 23,538.

Metal

Pieces of potassium metal
Pieces of potassium metal

Potassium metal was first isolated in 1807 by Humphry Davy, who derived it by electrolysis of molten KOH with the newly discovered voltaic pile. Potassium was the first metal that was isolated by electrolysis.[47] Later in the same year, Davy reported extraction of the metal sodium from a mineral derivative (caustic soda, NaOH, or lye) rather than a plant salt, by a similar technique, demonstrating that the elements, and thus the salts, are different.[38][39][48][49] Although the production of potassium and sodium metal should have shown that both are elements, it took some time before this view was universally accepted.[39]

Because of the sensitivity of potassium to water and air, air-free techniques are normally employed for handling the element. It is unreactive toward nitrogen and saturated hydrocarbons such as mineral oil or kerosene.[50] It readily dissolves in liquid ammonia, up to 480 g per 1000 g of ammonia at 0 °C. Depending on the concentration, the ammonia solutions are blue to yellow, and their electrical conductivity is similar to that of liquid metals. Potassium slowly reacts with ammonia to form KNH
2
, but this reaction is accelerated by minute amounts of transition metal salts.[51] Because it can reduce the salts to the metal, potassium is often used as the reductant in the preparation of finely divided metals from their salts by the Rieke method.[52] Illustrative is the preparation of magnesium:

MgCl2 + 2 K → Mg + 2 KCl

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Humphry Davy

Humphry Davy

Sir Humphry Davy, 1st Baronet, was a British chemist and inventor who invented the Davy lamp and a very early form of arc lamp. He is also remembered for isolating, by using electricity, several elements for the first time: potassium and sodium in 1807 and calcium, strontium, barium, magnesium and boron the following year, as well as for discovering the elemental nature of chlorine and iodine. Davy also studied the forces involved in these separations, inventing the new field of electrochemistry. Davy is also credited to have been the first to discover clathrate hydrates in his lab.

Voltaic pile

Voltaic pile

The voltaic pile was the first electrical battery that could continuously provide an electric current to a circuit. It was invented by Italian chemist Alessandro Volta, who published his experiments in 1799. The voltaic pile then enabled a rapid series of other discoveries including the electrical decomposition (electrolysis) of water into oxygen and hydrogen by William Nicholson and Anthony Carlisle (1800) and the discovery or isolation of the chemical elements sodium (1807), potassium (1807), calcium (1808), boron (1808), barium (1808), strontium (1808), and magnesium (1808) by Humphry Davy.

Sodium

Sodium

Sodium is a chemical element with the symbol Na and atomic number 11. It is a soft, silvery-white, highly reactive metal. Sodium is an alkali metal, being in group 1 of the periodic table. Its only stable isotope is 23Na. The free metal does not occur in nature, and must be prepared from compounds. Sodium is the sixth most abundant element in the Earth's crust and exists in numerous minerals such as feldspars, sodalite, and halite (NaCl). Many salts of sodium are highly water-soluble: sodium ions have been leached by the action of water from the Earth's minerals over eons, and thus sodium and chlorine are the most common dissolved elements by weight in the oceans.

Air-free technique

Air-free technique

Air-free techniques refer to a range of manipulations in the chemistry laboratory for the handling of compounds that are air-sensitive. These techniques prevent the compounds from reacting with components of air, usually water and oxygen; less commonly carbon dioxide and nitrogen. A common theme among these techniques is the use of a fine (100–10−3 Torr) or high (10−3–10−6 Torr) vacuum to remove air, and the use of an inert gas: preferably argon, but often nitrogen.

Kerosene

Kerosene

Kerosene, paraffin, or lamp oil is a combustible hydrocarbon liquid which is derived from petroleum. It is widely used as a fuel in aviation as well as households. Its name derives from Greek: κηρός (keros) meaning "wax", and was registered as a trademark by Canadian geologist and inventor Abraham Gesner in 1854 before evolving into a generic trademark. It is sometimes spelled kerosine in scientific and industrial usage. The term kerosene is common in much of Argentina, Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, Nigeria, and the United States, while the term paraffin is used in Chile, eastern Africa, South Africa, Norway, and in the United Kingdom. The term lamp oil, or the equivalent in the local languages, is common in the majority of Asia and the Southeastern United States. Liquid paraffin is a more viscous and highly refined product which is used as a laxative. Paraffin wax is a waxy solid extracted from petroleum.

Ammonia

Ammonia

Ammonia is an inorganic compound of nitrogen and hydrogen with the formula NH3. A stable binary hydride, and the simplest pnictogen hydride, ammonia is a colourless gas with a distinct pungent smell. Biologically, it is a common nitrogenous waste, particularly among aquatic organisms, and it contributes significantly to the nutritional needs of terrestrial organisms by serving as a precursor to 45 percent of the world's food and fertilizers. Around 70% of ammonia is used to make fertilisers in various forms and composition, such as urea and Diammonium phosphate. Ammonia in pure form is also applied directly into the soil.

Potassium amide

Potassium amide

Potassium amide is an inorganic compound with the chemical formula KNH2. Like other alkali metal amides, it is a white solid that hydrolyzes readily. It is a strong base.

Salt (chemistry)

Salt (chemistry)

In chemistry, a salt is a chemical compound consisting of an ionic assembly of positively charged cations and negatively charged anions, which results in a compound with no net electric charge. A common example is table salt, with positively charged sodium ions and negatively charged chloride ions.

Rieke metal

Rieke metal

A Rieke metal is a highly reactive metal powder generated by reduction of a metal salt with an alkali metal. These materials are named after Reuben D. Rieke, who first described the recipes for their preparation. Among the many metals that have been generated by this method are Mg, Ca, Ti, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, and In, which in turn are called Rieke-magnesium, Rieke-calcium, etc.

Magnesium chloride

Magnesium chloride

Magnesium chloride is the name for the chemical compound with the formula MgCl2. In addition to the anhydrous form, MgCl2 comes in its various hydrates MgCl2·nH2O. These salts are typical ionic halides, being highly soluble in water. The magnesium chloride can be extracted from brine or sea water. In North America, magnesium chloride is produced primarily from Great Salt Lake brine. It is extracted in a similar process from the Dead Sea in the Jordan Valley. Magnesium chloride, as the mineral bischofite, is also extracted out of ancient seabeds, for example, the Zechstein seabed in northwest Europe. This can be explained by high content of magnesium chloride in the primordial ocean. Some magnesium chloride is made from evaporation of seawater. Anhydrous magnesium chloride is the principal precursor to magnesium metal, which is produced on a large scale. Hydrated magnesium chloride is the form most readily available.

Geology

Elemental potassium does not occur in nature because of its high reactivity. It reacts violently with water (see section Precautions below)[50] and also reacts with oxygen. Orthoclase (potassium feldspar) is a common rock-forming mineral. Granite for example contains 5% potassium, which is well above the average in the Earth's crust. Sylvite (KCl), carnallite (KCl·MgCl2·6H2O), kainite (MgSO4·KCl·3H2O) and langbeinite (MgSO4·K2SO4) are the minerals found in large evaporite deposits worldwide. The deposits often show layers starting with the least soluble at the bottom and the most soluble on top.[36] Deposits of niter (potassium nitrate) are formed by decomposition of organic material in contact with atmosphere, mostly in caves; because of the good water solubility of niter the formation of larger deposits requires special environmental conditions.[53]

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Orthoclase

Orthoclase

Orthoclase, or orthoclase feldspar (endmember formula KAlSi3O8), is an important tectosilicate mineral which forms igneous rock. The name is from the Ancient Greek for "straight fracture," because its two cleavage planes are at right angles to each other. It is a type of potassium feldspar, also known as K-feldspar. The gem known as moonstone (see below) is largely composed of orthoclase.

Granite

Granite

Granite is a coarse-grained (phaneritic) intrusive igneous rock composed mostly of quartz, alkali feldspar, and plagioclase. It forms from magma with a high content of silica and alkali metal oxides that slowly cools and solidifies underground. It is common in the continental crust of Earth, where it is found in igneous intrusions. These range in size from dikes only a few centimeters across to batholiths exposed over hundreds of square kilometers.

Sylvite

Sylvite

Sylvite, or sylvine, is potassium chloride (KCl) in natural mineral form. It forms crystals in the isometric system very similar to normal rock salt, halite (NaCl). The two are, in fact, isomorphous. Sylvite is colorless to white with shades of yellow and red due to inclusions. It has a Mohs hardness of 2.5 and a specific gravity of 1.99. It has a refractive index of 1.4903. Sylvite has a salty taste with a distinct bitterness.

Carnallite

Carnallite

Carnallite (also carnalite) is an evaporite mineral, a hydrated potassium magnesium chloride with formula KMgCl3·6(H2O). It is variably colored yellow to white, reddish, and sometimes colorless or blue. It is usually massive to fibrous with rare pseudohexagonal orthorhombic crystals. The mineral is deliquescent (absorbs moisture from the surrounding air) and specimens must be stored in an airtight container.

Kainite

Kainite

Kainite ( or ) (KMg(SO4)Cl·3H2O) is an evaporite mineral in the class of "Sulfates (selenates, etc.) with additional anions, with H2O" according to the Nickel–Strunz classification. It is a hydrated potassium-magnesium sulfate-chloride, naturally occurring in irregular granular masses or as crystalline coatings in cavities or fissures. This mineral is dull and soft, and is colored white, yellowish, grey, reddish, or blue to violet. Its name is derived from Greek καινος [kainos] ("(hitherto) unknown"), as it was the first mineral discovered that contained both sulfate and chloride as anions. Kainite forms monoclinic crystals.

Langbeinite

Langbeinite

Langbeinite is a potassium magnesium sulfate mineral with the chemical formula K2Mg2(SO4)3. Langbeinite crystallizes in the isometric-tetartoidal (cubic) system as transparent colorless or white with pale tints of yellow to green and violet crystalline masses. It has a vitreous luster. The Mohs hardness is 3.5 to 4 and the specific gravity is 2.83. The crystals are piezoelectric.

Evaporite

Evaporite

An evaporite is a water-soluble sedimentary mineral deposit that results from concentration and crystallization by evaporation from an aqueous solution. There are two types of evaporite deposits: marine, which can also be described as ocean deposits, and non-marine, which are found in standing bodies of water such as lakes. Evaporites are considered sedimentary rocks and are formed by chemical sediments.

Potassium nitrate

Potassium nitrate

Potassium nitrate is a chemical compound with the chemical formula KNO3. This alkali metal nitrate salt is also known as Indian saltpetre (large deposits of which were historically mined in India). It is an ionic salt of potassium ions K+ and nitrate ions NO3−, and is therefore an alkali metal nitrate. It occurs in nature as a mineral, niter (or nitre in the UK). It is a source of nitrogen, and nitrogen was named after niter. Potassium nitrate is one of several nitrogen-containing compounds collectively referred to as saltpeter (or saltpetre in the UK).

Biological role

Potassium is the eighth or ninth most common element by mass (0.2%) in the human body, so that a 60 kg adult contains a total of about 120 g of potassium.[54] The body has about as much potassium as sulfur and chlorine, and only calcium and phosphorus are more abundant (with the exception of the ubiquitous CHON elements).[55] Potassium ions are present in a wide variety of proteins and enzymes.[56]

Biochemical function

Potassium levels influence multiple physiological processes, including[57][58][59]

  • resting cellular-membrane potential and the propagation of action potentials in neuronal, muscular, and cardiac tissue. Due to the electrostatic and chemical properties, K+ ions are larger than Na+ ions, and ion channels and pumps in cell membranes can differentiate between the two ions, actively pumping or passively passing one of the two ions while blocking the other.[60]
  • hormone secretion and action
  • vascular tone
  • systemic blood pressure control
  • gastrointestinal motility
  • acid–base homeostasis
  • glucose and insulin metabolism
  • mineralocorticoid action
  • renal concentrating ability
  • fluid and electrolyte balance

Homeostasis

Potassium homeostasis denotes the maintenance of the total body potassium content, plasma potassium level, and the ratio of the intracellular to extracellular potassium concentrations within narrow limits, in the face of pulsatile intake (meals), obligatory renal excretion, and shifts between intracellular and extracellular compartments.

Plasma levels

Plasma potassium is normally kept at 3.5 to 5.5 millimoles (mmol) [or milliequivalents (mEq)] per liter by multiple mechanisms.[61] Levels outside this range are associated with an increasing rate of death from multiple causes,[62] and some cardiac, kidney,[63] and lung diseases progress more rapidly if serum potassium levels are not maintained within the normal range.

An average meal of 40–50 mmol presents the body with more potassium than is present in all plasma (20–25 mmol). However, this surge causes the plasma potassium to rise only 10% at most as a result of prompt and efficient clearance by both renal and extra-renal mechanisms.[64]

Hypokalemia, a deficiency of potassium in the plasma, can be fatal if severe. Common causes are increased gastrointestinal loss (vomiting, diarrhea), and increased renal loss (diuresis).[65] Deficiency symptoms include muscle weakness, paralytic ileus, ECG abnormalities, decreased reflex response; and in severe cases, respiratory paralysis, alkalosis, and cardiac arrhythmia.[66]

Control mechanisms

Potassium content in the plasma is tightly controlled by four basic mechanisms, which have various names and classifications. The four are 1) a reactive negative-feedback system, 2) a reactive feed-forward system, 3) a predictive or circadian system, and 4) an internal or cell membrane transport system. Collectively, the first three are sometimes termed the "external potassium homeostasis system";[67] and the first two, the "reactive potassium homeostasis system".

  • The reactive negative-feedback system refers to the system that induces renal secretion of potassium in response to a rise in the plasma potassium (potassium ingestion, shift out of cells, or intravenous infusion.)
  • The reactive feed-forward system refers to an incompletely understood system that induces renal potassium secretion in response to potassium ingestion prior to any rise in the plasma potassium. This is probably initiated by gut cell potassium receptors that detect ingested potassium and trigger vagal afferent signals to the pituitary gland.
  • The predictive or circadian system increases renal secretion of potassium during mealtime hours (e.g. daytime for humans, nighttime for rodents) independent of the presence, amount, or absence of potassium ingestion. It is mediated by a circadian oscillator in the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the brain (central clock), which causes the kidney (peripheral clock) to secrete potassium in this rhythmic circadian fashion.
    The action of the sodium-potassium pump is an example of primary active transport. The two carrier proteins embedded in the cell membrane on the left are using ATP to move sodium out of the cell against the concentration gradient; The two proteins on the right are using secondary active transport to move potassium into the cell. This process results in reconstitution of ATP.
    The action of the sodium-potassium pump is an example of primary active transport. The two carrier proteins embedded in the cell membrane on the left are using ATP to move sodium out of the cell against the concentration gradient; The two proteins on the right are using secondary active transport to move potassium into the cell. This process results in reconstitution of ATP.
  • The ion transport system moves potassium across the cell membrane using two mechanisms. One is active and pumps sodium out of, and potassium into, the cell. The other is passive and allows potassium to leak out of the cell. Potassium and sodium cations influence fluid distribution between intracellular and extracellular compartments by osmotic forces. The movement of potassium and sodium through the cell membrane is mediated by the Na⁺/K⁺-ATPase pump.[68] This ion pump uses ATP to pump three sodium ions out of the cell and two potassium ions into the cell, creating an electrochemical gradient and electromotive force across the cell membrane. The highly selective potassium ion channels (which are tetramers) are crucial for hyperpolarization inside neurons after an action potential is triggered, to cite one example. The most recently discovered potassium ion channel is KirBac3.1, which makes a total of five potassium ion channels (KcsA, KirBac1.1, KirBac3.1, KvAP, and MthK) with a determined structure. All five are from prokaryotic species.[69]

Renal filtration, reabsorption, and excretion

Renal handling of potassium is closely connected to sodium handling. Potassium is the major cation (positive ion) inside animal cells [150 mmol/L, (4.8 g)], while sodium is the major cation of extracellular fluid [150 mmol/L, (3.345 g)]. In the kidneys, about 180 liters of plasma is filtered through the glomeruli and into the renal tubules per day.[70] This filtering involves about 600 g of sodium and 33 g of potassium. Since only 1–10 g of sodium and 1–4 g of potassium are likely to be replaced by diet, renal filtering must efficiently reabsorb the remainder from the plasma.

Sodium is reabsorbed to maintain extracellular volume, osmotic pressure, and serum sodium concentration within narrow limits. Potassium is reabsorbed to maintain serum potassium concentration within narrow limits.[71] Sodium pumps in the renal tubules operate to reabsorb sodium. Potassium must be conserved, but because the amount of potassium in the blood plasma is very small and the pool of potassium in the cells is about 30 times as large, the situation is not so critical for potassium. Since potassium is moved passively[72][73] in counter flow to sodium in response to an apparent (but not actual) Donnan equilibrium,[74] the urine can never sink below the concentration of potassium in serum except sometimes by actively excreting water at the end of the processing. Potassium is excreted twice and reabsorbed three times before the urine reaches the collecting tubules.[75] At that point, urine usually has about the same potassium concentration as plasma. At the end of the processing, potassium is secreted one more time if the serum levels are too high.

With no potassium intake, it is excreted at about 200 mg per day until, in about a week, potassium in the serum declines to a mildly deficient level of 3.0–3.5 mmol/L.[76] If potassium is still withheld, the concentration continues to fall until a severe deficiency causes eventual death.[77]

The potassium moves passively through pores in the cell membrane. When ions move through Ion transporters (pumps) there is a gate in the pumps on both sides of the cell membrane and only one gate can be open at once. As a result, approximately 100 ions are forced through per second. Ion channel have only one gate, and there only one kind of ion can stream through, at 10 million to 100 million ions per second.[78] Calcium is required to open the pores,[79] although calcium may work in reverse by blocking at least one of the pores.[80] Carbonyl groups inside the pore on the amino acids mimic the water hydration that takes place in water solution[81] by the nature of the electrostatic charges on four carbonyl groups inside the pore.[82]

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Potassium in biology

Potassium in biology

Potassium is the main intracellular ion for all types of cells, while having a major role in maintenance of fluid and electrolyte balance. Potassium is necessary for the function of all living cells, and is thus present in all plant and animal tissues. It is found in especially high concentrations within plant cells, and in a mixed diet, it is most highly concentrated in fruits. The high concentration of potassium in plants, associated with comparatively very low amounts of sodium there, historically resulted in potassium first being isolated from the ashes of plants (potash), which in turn gave the element its modern name. The high concentration of potassium in plants means that heavy crop production rapidly depletes soils of potassium, and agricultural fertilizers consume 93% of the potassium chemical production of the modern world economy.

Composition of the human body

Composition of the human body

Body composition may be analyzed in various ways. This can be done in terms of the chemical elements present, or by molecular type e.g., water, protein, fats, hydroxylapatite, carbohydrates and DNA. In terms of tissue type, the body may be analyzed into water, fat, connective tissue, muscle, bone, etc. In terms of cell type, the body contains hundreds of different types of cells, but notably, the largest number of cells contained in a human body are not human cells, but bacteria residing in the normal human gastrointestinal tract.

CHON

CHON

CHON is a mnemonic acronym for the four most common elements in living organisms: carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen.

Hypokalemia

Hypokalemia

Hypokalemia is a low level of potassium (K+) in the blood serum. Mild low potassium does not typically cause symptoms. Symptoms may include feeling tired, leg cramps, weakness, and constipation. Low potassium also increases the risk of an abnormal heart rhythm, which is often too slow and can cause cardiac arrest.

Vomiting

Vomiting

Vomiting is the involuntary, forceful expulsion of the contents of one's stomach through the mouth and sometimes the nose.

Diarrhea

Diarrhea

Diarrhea, also spelled diarrhoea, is the condition of having at least three loose, liquid, or watery bowel movements each day. It often lasts for a few days and can result in dehydration due to fluid loss. Signs of dehydration often begin with loss of the normal stretchiness of the skin and irritable behaviour. This can progress to decreased urination, loss of skin color, a fast heart rate, and a decrease in responsiveness as it becomes more severe. Loose but non-watery stools in babies who are exclusively breastfed, however, are normal.

Polyuria

Polyuria

Polyuria is excessive or an abnormally large production or passage of urine. Increased production and passage of urine may also be termed diuresis. Polyuria often appears in conjunction with polydipsia, though it is possible to have one without the other, and the latter may be a cause or an effect. Primary polydipsia may lead to polyuria. Polyuria is usually viewed as a symptom or sign of another disorder, but it can be classed as a disorder, at least when its underlying causes are not clear.

Alkalosis

Alkalosis

Alkalosis is the result of a process reducing hydrogen ion concentration of arterial blood plasma (alkalemia). In contrast to acidemia, alkalemia occurs when the serum pH is higher than normal. Alkalosis is usually divided into the categories of respiratory alkalosis and metabolic alkalosis or a combined respiratory/metabolic alkalosis.

Afferent nerve fiber

Afferent nerve fiber

Afferent nerve fibers are the axons carried by a sensory nerve that relay sensory information from sensory receptors to regions of the brain. Afferent projections arrive at a particular brain region. Efferent nerve fibers are carried by efferent nerves and exit a region to act on muscles and glands.

Suprachiasmatic nucleus

Suprachiasmatic nucleus

The suprachiasmatic nucleus or nuclei (SCN) is a tiny region of the brain in the hypothalamus, situated directly above the optic chiasm. It is responsible for controlling circadian rhythms. The neuronal and hormonal activities it generates regulate many different body functions in a 24-hour cycle. The mouse SCN contains approximately 20,000 neurons.

Active transport

Active transport

In cellular biology, active transport is the movement of molecules or ions across a cell membrane from a region of lower concentration because a region of higher concentration—against the concentration gradient. passive transport requires cellular energy to achieve this movement. There are two types of active transport: primary active transport that uses adenosine triphosphate (ATP), and secondary active transport that uses an electrochemical gradient.

Adenosine triphosphate

Adenosine triphosphate

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is an organic compound that provides energy to drive many processes in living cells, such as muscle contraction, nerve impulse propagation, condensate dissolution, and chemical synthesis. Found in all known forms of life, ATP is often referred to as the "molecular unit of currency" of intracellular energy transfer. When consumed in metabolic processes, it converts either to adenosine diphosphate (ADP) or to adenosine monophosphate (AMP). Other processes regenerate ATP. The human body recycles its own body weight equivalent in ATP each day. It is also a precursor to DNA and RNA, and is used as a coenzyme.

Nutrition

Dietary recommendations

The U.S. National Academy of Medicine (NAM), on behalf of both the U.S. and Canada, sets Estimated Average Requirements (EARs) and Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs), or Adequate Intakes (AIs) for when there is not sufficient information to set EARs and RDAs. Collectively the EARs, RDAs, AIs and ULs are referred to as Dietary Reference Intakes.

For both males and females under 9 years of age, the AIs for potassium are: 400 mg of potassium for 0-6-month-old infants, 860 mg of potassium for 7-12-month-old infants, 2,000 mg of potassium for 1-3-year-old children, and 2,300 mg of potassium for 4-8-year-old children.

For males 9 years of age and older, the AIs for potassium are: 2,500 mg of potassium for 9-13-year-old males, 3,000 mg of potassium for 14-18-year-old males, and 3,400 mg for males that are 19 years of age and older.

For females 9 years of age and older, the AIs for potassium are: 2,300 mg of potassium for 9-18-year-old females, and 2,600 mg of potassium for females that are 19 years of age and older.

For pregnant and lactating females, the AIs for potassium are: 2,600 mg of potassium for 14-18-year-old pregnant females, 2,900 mg for pregnant females that are 19 years of age and older; furthermore, 2,500 mg of potassium for 14-18-year-old lactating females, and 2,800 mg for lactating females that are 19 years of age and older. As for safety, the NAM also sets tolerable upper intake levels (ULs) for vitamins and minerals, but for potassium the evidence was insufficient, so no UL was established.[83][84]

As of 2004, most Americans adults consume less than 3,000 mg.[85]

Likewise, in the European Union, in particular in Germany, and Italy, insufficient potassium intake is somewhat common.[86] The British National Health Service recommends a similar intake, saying that adults need 3,500 mg per day and that excess amounts may cause health problems such as stomach pain and diarrhea.[87]

In 2019, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine revised the Adequate Intake for potassium to 2,600 mg/day for females 19 years of age and older who are not pregnant or lactating, and 3,400 mg/day for males 19 years of age and older.[88][89]

Food sources

Potassium is present in all fruits, vegetables, meat and fish. Foods with high potassium concentrations include yam, parsley, dried apricots, milk, chocolate, all nuts (especially almonds and pistachios), potatoes, bamboo shoots, bananas, avocados, coconut water, soybeans, and bran.[90]

The USDA lists tomato paste, orange juice, beet greens, white beans, potatoes, plantains, bananas, apricots, and many other dietary sources of potassium, ranked in descending order according to potassium content. A day's worth of potassium is in 5 plantains or 11 bananas.[91]

Deficient intake

Diets low in potassium can lead to hypertension[92] and hypokalemia.

Supplementation

Supplements of potassium are most widely used in conjunction with diuretics that block reabsorption of sodium and water upstream from the distal tubule (thiazides and loop diuretics), because this promotes increased distal tubular potassium secretion, with resultant increased potassium excretion. A variety of prescription and over-the counter supplements are available. Potassium chloride may be dissolved in water, but the salty/bitter taste makes liquid supplements unpalatable.[93] Typical doses range from 10 mmol (400 mg), to 20 mmol (800 mg). Potassium is also available in tablets or capsules, which are formulated to allow potassium to leach slowly out of a matrix, since very high concentrations of potassium ion that occur adjacent to a solid tablet can injure the gastric or intestinal mucosa. For this reason, non-prescription potassium pills are limited by law in the US to a maximum of 99 mg of potassium.

A meta-analysis concluded that a 1640 mg increase in the daily intake of potassium was associated with a 21% lower risk of stroke.[94] Potassium chloride and potassium bicarbonate may be useful to control mild hypertension.[95] In 2020, potassium was the 33rd most commonly prescribed medication in the United States, with more than 17 million prescriptions.[96][97]

Detection by taste buds

Potassium can be detected by taste because it triggers three of the five types of taste sensations, according to concentration. Dilute solutions of potassium ions taste sweet, allowing moderate concentrations in milk and juices, while higher concentrations become increasingly bitter/alkaline, and finally also salty to the taste. The combined bitterness and saltiness of high-potassium solutions makes high-dose potassium supplementation by liquid drinks a palatability challenge.[93][98]

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National Academy of Medicine

National Academy of Medicine

The National Academy of Medicine (NAM), formerly called the Institute of Medicine (IoM) until 2015, is an American nonprofit, non-governmental organization. The National Academy of Medicine is a part of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, along with the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), National Academy of Engineering (NAE), and the National Research Council (NRC).

Dietary Reference Intake

Dietary Reference Intake

The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) is a system of nutrition recommendations from the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) of the National Academies. It was introduced in 1997 in order to broaden the existing guidelines known as Recommended Dietary Allowances. The DRI values differ from those used in nutrition labeling on food and dietary supplement products in the U.S. and Canada, which uses Reference Daily Intakes (RDIs) and Daily Values (%DV) which were based on outdated RDAs from 1968 but were updated as of 2016.

Diarrhea

Diarrhea

Diarrhea, also spelled diarrhoea, is the condition of having at least three loose, liquid, or watery bowel movements each day. It often lasts for a few days and can result in dehydration due to fluid loss. Signs of dehydration often begin with loss of the normal stretchiness of the skin and irritable behaviour. This can progress to decreased urination, loss of skin color, a fast heart rate, and a decrease in responsiveness as it becomes more severe. Loose but non-watery stools in babies who are exclusively breastfed, however, are normal.

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are the collective scientific national academy of the United States. The name is used interchangeably in two senses: (1) as an umbrella term for its three quasi-independent honorific member organizations the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), and the National Academy of Medicine (NAM); and (2) as the brand for studies and reports issued by the operating arm of the three academies, the National Research Council (NRC). The NRC was first formed in 1916 as an activity of the NAS.

Apricot

Apricot

An apricot is a fruit, or the tree that bears the fruit, of several species in the genus Prunus.

Milk

Milk

Milk is a white liquid food produced by the mammary glands of mammals. It is the primary source of nutrition for young mammals before they are able to digest solid food. Immune factors and immune-modulating components in milk contribute to milk immunity. Early-lactation milk, which is called colostrum, contains antibodies that strengthen the immune system, and thus reduces the risk of many diseases. Milk contains many nutrients, including protein and lactose.

Chocolate

Chocolate

Chocolate is a food made from roasted and ground cacao seed kernels that is available as a liquid, solid, or paste, either on its own or as a flavoring agent in other foods. Cacao has been consumed in some form since at least the Olmec civilization, and the majority of Mesoamerican people ─ including the Maya and Aztecs ─ made chocolate beverages.

Almond

Almond

The almond is a species of tree native to Iran and surrounding countries, including the Levant. The almond is also the name of the edible and widely cultivated seed of this tree. Within the genus Prunus, it is classified with the peach in the subgenus Amygdalus, distinguished from the other subgenera by corrugations on the shell (endocarp) surrounding the seed.

Bamboo shoot

Bamboo shoot

Bamboo shoots or bamboo sprouts are the edible shoots of many bamboo species including Bambusa vulgaris and Phyllostachys edulis. They are used as vegetables in numerous Asian dishes and broths. They are sold in various processed shapes, and are available in fresh, dried, and canned versions.

Banana

Banana

A banana is an elongated, edible fruit – botanically a berry – produced by several kinds of large herbaceous flowering plants in the genus Musa. In some countries, bananas used for cooking may be called "plantains", distinguishing them from dessert bananas. The fruit is variable in size, color, and firmness, but is usually elongated and curved, with soft flesh rich in starch covered with a rind, which may be green, yellow, red, purple, or brown when ripe. The fruits grow upward in clusters near the top of the plant. Almost all modern edible seedless (parthenocarp) bananas come from two wild species – Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana. The scientific names of most cultivated bananas are Musa acuminata, Musa balbisiana, and Musa × paradisiaca for the hybrid Musa acuminata × M. balbisiana, depending on their genomic constitution. The old scientific name for this hybrid, Musa sapientum, is no longer used.

Avocado

Avocado

The avocado is a medium-sized, evergreen tree in the laurel family (Lauraceae). It is native to the Americas and was first domesticated by Mesoamerican tribes more than 5,000 years ago. Then as now it was prized for its large and unusually oily fruit. The tree likely originated in the highlands bridging south-central Mexico and Guatemala. Its fruit, sometimes also referred to as an alligator or avocado pear, is botanically a large berry containing a single large seed. Avocado trees are partially self-pollinating, and are often propagated through grafting to maintain consistent fruit output. Avocados are presently cultivated in the tropical and Mediterranean climates of many countries. Mexico is the world's leading producer of avocados as of 2020, supplying nearly 30% of the global harvest in that year.

Coconut water

Coconut water

Coconut water is the clear liquid inside coconuts. In early development, it serves as a suspension for the endosperm of the coconut during the nuclear phase of development. As growth continues, the endosperm matures into its cellular phase and deposits into the rind of the coconut pulp. The liquid inside young coconuts is often preferred to the liquid of a ripened coconut. Coconut water from young green coconuts is also known specifically as buko juice in Philippine English.

Commercial production

Mining

Sylvite from New Mexico
Sylvite from New Mexico
Monte Kali, a potash mining and beneficiation waste heap in Hesse, Germany, consisting mostly of sodium chloride.
Monte Kali, a potash mining and beneficiation waste heap in Hesse, Germany, consisting mostly of sodium chloride.

Potassium salts such as carnallite, langbeinite, polyhalite, and sylvite form extensive evaporite deposits in ancient lake bottoms and seabeds,[35] making extraction of potassium salts in these environments commercially viable. The principal source of potassium – potash – is mined in Canada, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Germany, Israel, United States, Jordan, and other places around the world.[99][100][101] The first mined deposits were located near Staßfurt, Germany, but the deposits span from Great Britain over Germany into Poland. They are located in the Zechstein and were deposited in the Middle to Late Permian. The largest deposits ever found lie 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) below the surface of the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. The deposits are located in the Elk Point Group produced in the Middle Devonian. Saskatchewan, where several large mines have operated since the 1960s pioneered the technique of freezing of wet sands (the Blairmore formation) to drive mine shafts through them. The main potash mining company in Saskatchewan until its merge was the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan, now Nutrien.[102] The water of the Dead Sea is used by Israel and Jordan as a source of potash, while the concentration in normal oceans is too low for commercial production at current prices.[100][101]

Chemical extraction

Several methods are used to separate potassium salts from sodium and magnesium compounds. The most-used method is fractional precipitation using the solubility differences of the salts. Electrostatic separation of the ground salt mixture is also used in some mines. The resulting sodium and magnesium waste is either stored underground or piled up in slag heaps. Most of the mined potassium mineral ends up as potassium chloride after processing. The mineral industry refers to potassium chloride either as potash, muriate of potash, or simply MOP.[36]

Pure potassium metal can be isolated by electrolysis of its hydroxide in a process that has changed little since it was first used by Humphry Davy in 1807. Although the electrolysis process was developed and used in industrial scale in the 1920s, the thermal method by reacting sodium with potassium chloride in a chemical equilibrium reaction became the dominant method in the 1950s.

Na + KCl → NaCl + K

The production of sodium potassium alloys is accomplished by changing the reaction time and the amount of sodium used in the reaction. The Griesheimer process employing the reaction of potassium fluoride with calcium carbide was also used to produce potassium.[36][103]

2 KF + CaC2 → 2 K + CaF2 + 2 C

Reagent-grade potassium metal costs about $10.00/pound ($22/kg) in 2010 when purchased by the tonne. Lower purity metal is considerably cheaper. The market is volatile because long-term storage of the metal is difficult. It must be stored in a dry inert gas atmosphere or anhydrous mineral oil to prevent the formation of a surface layer of potassium superoxide, a pressure-sensitive explosive that detonates when scratched. The resulting explosion often starts a fire difficult to extinguish.[104][105]

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Beneficiation

Beneficiation

In the mining industry or extractive metallurgy, beneficiation is any process that improves (benefits) the economic value of the ore by removing the gangue minerals, which results in a higher grade product and a waste stream (tailings). There are many different types of beneficiation, with each step furthering the concentration of the original ore.

Hesse

Hesse

Hesse or Hessia, officially the State of Hessen, is a state in Germany. Its capital city is Wiesbaden, and the largest urban area is Frankfurt. Two other major historic cities are Darmstadt and Kassel. With an area of 21,114.73 square kilometers and a population of just over six million, it ranks seventh and fifth, respectively, among the sixteen German states. Frankfurt Rhine-Main, Germany's second-largest metropolitan area, is mainly located in Hesse.

Carnallite

Carnallite

Carnallite (also carnalite) is an evaporite mineral, a hydrated potassium magnesium chloride with formula KMgCl3·6(H2O). It is variably colored yellow to white, reddish, and sometimes colorless or blue. It is usually massive to fibrous with rare pseudohexagonal orthorhombic crystals. The mineral is deliquescent (absorbs moisture from the surrounding air) and specimens must be stored in an airtight container.

Langbeinite

Langbeinite

Langbeinite is a potassium magnesium sulfate mineral with the chemical formula K2Mg2(SO4)3. Langbeinite crystallizes in the isometric-tetartoidal (cubic) system as transparent colorless or white with pale tints of yellow to green and violet crystalline masses. It has a vitreous luster. The Mohs hardness is 3.5 to 4 and the specific gravity is 2.83. The crystals are piezoelectric.

Polyhalite

Polyhalite

Polyhalite is an evaporite mineral, a hydrated sulfate of potassium, calcium and magnesium with formula: K2Ca2Mg(SO4)4·2H2O. Polyhalite crystallizes in the triclinic system, although crystals are very rare. The normal habit is massive to fibrous. It is typically colorless, white to gray, although it may be brick red due to iron oxide inclusions. It has a Mohs hardness of 3.5 and a specific gravity of 2.8.

Evaporite

Evaporite

An evaporite is a water-soluble sedimentary mineral deposit that results from concentration and crystallization by evaporation from an aqueous solution. There are two types of evaporite deposits: marine, which can also be described as ocean deposits, and non-marine, which are found in standing bodies of water such as lakes. Evaporites are considered sedimentary rocks and are formed by chemical sediments.

Canada

Canada

Canada is a country in North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering over 9.98 million square kilometres, making it the world's second-largest country by total area. Its southern and western border with the United States, stretching 8,891 kilometres (5,525 mi), is the world's longest binational land border. Canada's capital is Ottawa, and its three largest metropolitan areas are Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.

Belarus

Belarus

Belarus, officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe. It is bordered by Russia to the east and northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Covering an area of 207,600 square kilometres (80,200 sq mi) and with a population of 9.4 million, Belarus is the 13th-largest and the 20th-most populous country in Europe. The country has a hemiboreal climate and is administratively divided into seven regions. Minsk is the capital and largest city.

Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan, officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country located mainly in Central Asia and partly in Eastern Europe. It borders Russia to the north and west, China to the east, Kyrgyzstan to the southeast, Uzbekistan to the south, and Turkmenistan to the southwest, with a coastline along the Caspian Sea. Its capital is Astana, known as Nur-Sultan from 2019 to 2022. Almaty, Kazakhstan's largest city, was the country's capital until 1997. Kazakhstan is the world's largest landlocked country, the largest and northernmost Muslim-majority country by land area, and the ninth-largest country in the world. It has a population of 19 million people, and one of the lowest population densities in the world, at fewer than 6 people per square kilometre.

Germany

Germany

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central Europe. It is the second most populous country in Europe after Russia, and the most populous member state of the European Union. Germany is situated between the Baltic and North seas to the north, and the Alps to the south; it covers an area of 357,022 square kilometres (137,847 sq mi), with a population of almost 84 million within its 16 constituent states. Germany borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, and France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands to the west. The nation's capital and most populous city is Berlin and its financial centre is Frankfurt; the largest urban area is the Ruhr.

Israel

Israel

Israel, officially the State of Israel, is a country in Western Asia. It is situated on the southeastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea and the northern shore of the Red Sea, and shares borders with Lebanon to the north, Syria to the northeast, Jordan to the east, and Egypt to the southwest; it is also bordered by the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to the east and west, respectively. Tel Aviv is the economic and technological center of the country, while its seat of government is in its proclaimed capital of Jerusalem, although Israeli sovereignty over East Jerusalem is unrecognized internationally.

Jordan

Jordan

Jordan, officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, is a country in Western Asia. It is situated at the crossroads of Asia, Africa, and Europe, within the Levant region, on the East Bank of the Jordan River. Jordan is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south and east, Iraq to the northeast, Syria to the north, and the Palestinian West Bank, Israel, and the Dead Sea to the west. It has a 26 km (16 mi) coastline on the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea to the southwest. The Gulf of Aqaba separates Jordan from Egypt. Amman is Jordan's capital and largest city, as well as its economic, political, and cultural centre.

Cation identification

Potassium is now quantified by ionization techniques, but at one time it was quantitated by gravimetric analysis.

Reagents used to precipitate potassium salts include sodium tetraphenylborate, hexachloroplatinic acid, and sodium cobaltinitrite into respectively potassium tetraphenylborate, potassium hexachloroplatinate, and potassium cobaltinitrite.[50] The reaction with sodium cobaltinitrite is illustrative:

3 K+ + Na3[Co(NO2)6] → K3[Co(NO2)6] + 3 Na+

The potassium cobaltinitrite is obtained as a yellow solid.

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Gravimetric analysis

Gravimetric analysis

Gravimetric analysis describes a set of methods used in analytical chemistry for the quantitative determination of an analyte based on its mass. The principle of this type of analysis is that once an ion's mass has been determined as a unique compound, that known measurement can then be used to determine the same analyte's mass in a mixture, as long as the relative quantities of the other constituents are known.

Sodium tetraphenylborate

Sodium tetraphenylborate

Sodium tetraphenylborate is the organic compound with the formula NaB(C6H5)4. It is a salt, wherein the anion consists of four phenyl rings bonded to boron. This white crystalline solid is used to prepare other tetraphenylborate salts, which are often highly soluble in organic solvents. The compound is used in inorganic and organometallic chemistry as a precipitating agent for potassium, ammonium, rubidium, and cesium ions, and some organic nitrogen compounds.

Potassium tetraphenylborate

Potassium tetraphenylborate

Potassium tetraphenylborate is the salt with the formula KB(C6H5)4). It is a colourless salt that is a rare example of a water-insoluble salt of potassium.

Potassium hexachloroplatinate

Potassium hexachloroplatinate

Potassium hexachloroplatinate is the inorganic compound with the formula K2PtCl6. It is a yellow solid that is an example of a comparatively insoluble potassium salt. The salt features the hexachloroplatinate(IV) dianion, which has octahedral coordination geometry.

Commercial uses

Fertilizer

Potassium sulfate/magnesium sulfate fertilizer
Potassium sulfate/magnesium sulfate fertilizer

Potassium ions are an essential component of plant nutrition and are found in most soil types.[11] They are used as a fertilizer in agriculture, horticulture, and hydroponic culture in the form of chloride (KCl), sulfate (K2SO4), or nitrate (KNO3), representing the 'K' in 'NPK'. Agricultural fertilizers consume 95% of global potassium chemical production, and about 90% of this potassium is supplied as KCl.[11] The potassium content of most plants ranges from 0.5% to 2% of the harvested weight of crops, conventionally expressed as amount of K2O. Modern high-yield agriculture depends upon fertilizers to replace the potassium lost at harvest. Most agricultural fertilizers contain potassium chloride, while potassium sulfate is used for chloride-sensitive crops or crops needing higher sulfur content. The sulfate is produced mostly by decomposition of the complex minerals kainite (MgSO4·KCl·3H2O) and langbeinite (MgSO4·K2SO4). Only a very few fertilizers contain potassium nitrate.[106] In 2005, about 93% of world potassium production was consumed by the fertilizer industry.[101] Furthermore, potassium can play a key role in nutrient cycling by controlling litter composition.[107]

Medical use

Potassium citrate

Potassium citrate is used to treat a kidney stone condition called renal tubular acidosis.[108]

Potassium chloride

Potassium, in the form of potassium chloride is used as a medication to treat and prevent low blood potassium.[109] Low blood potassium may occur due to vomiting, diarrhea, or certain medications.[110] It is given by slow injection into a vein or by mouth.[111]

Food additives

Potassium sodium tartrate (KNaC4H4O6, Rochelle salt) is a main constituent of some varieties of baking powder; it is also used in the silvering of mirrors. Potassium bromate (KBrO3) is a strong oxidizer (E924), used to improve dough strength and rise height. Potassium bisulfite (KHSO3) is used as a food preservative, for example in wine and beer-making (but not in meats). It is also used to bleach textiles and straw, and in the tanning of leathers.[112][113]

Industrial

Major potassium chemicals are potassium hydroxide, potassium carbonate, potassium sulfate, and potassium chloride. Megatons of these compounds are produced annually.[114]

Potassium hydroxide KOH is a strong base, which is used in industry to neutralize strong and weak acids, to control pH and to manufacture potassium salts. It is also used to saponify fats and oils, in industrial cleaners, and in hydrolysis reactions, for example of esters.[115][116]

Potassium nitrate (KNO3) or saltpeter is obtained from natural sources such as guano and evaporites or manufactured via the Haber process; it is the oxidant in gunpowder (black powder) and an important agricultural fertilizer. Potassium cyanide (KCN) is used industrially to dissolve copper and precious metals, in particular silver and gold, by forming complexes. Its applications include gold mining, electroplating, and electroforming of these metals; it is also used in organic synthesis to make nitriles. Potassium carbonate (K2CO3 or potash) is used in the manufacture of glass, soap, color TV tubes, fluorescent lamps, textile dyes and pigments.[117] Potassium permanganate (KMnO4) is an oxidizing, bleaching and purification substance and is used for production of saccharin. Potassium chlorate (KClO3) is added to matches and explosives. Potassium bromide (KBr) was formerly used as a sedative and in photography.[11]

While potassium chromate (K2CrO4) is used in the manufacture of a host of different commercial products such as inks, dyes, wood stains (by reacting with the tannic acid in wood), explosives, fireworks, fly paper, and safety matches,[118] as well as in the tanning of leather, all of these uses are due to the chemistry of the chromate ion rather than to that of the potassium ion.[119]

Niche uses

There are thousands of uses of various potassium compounds. One example is potassium superoxide, KO2, an orange solid that acts as a portable source of oxygen and a carbon dioxide absorber. It is widely used in respiration systems in mines, submarines and spacecraft as it takes less volume than the gaseous oxygen.[120][121]

4 KO2 + 2 CO2 → 2 K2CO3 + 3 O2

Another example is potassium cobaltinitrite, K3[Co(NO2)6], which is used as artist's pigment under the name of Aureolin or Cobalt Yellow.[122]

The stable isotopes of potassium can be laser cooled and used to probe fundamental and technological problems in quantum physics. The two bosonic isotopes possess convenient Feshbach resonances to enable studies requiring tunable interactions, while 40
K
is one of only two stable fermions amongst the alkali metals.[123]

Laboratory uses

An alloy of sodium and potassium, NaK is a liquid used as a heat-transfer medium and a desiccant for producing dry and air-free solvents. It can also be used in reactive distillation.[124] The ternary alloy of 12% Na, 47% K and 41% Cs has the lowest melting point of −78 °C of any metallic compound.[18]

Metallic potassium is used in several types of magnetometers.[125]

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Plant

Plant

Plants are predominantly photosynthetic eukaryotes of the kingdom Plantae. Historically, the plant kingdom encompassed all living things that were not animals, and included algae and fungi; however, all current definitions of Plantae exclude the fungi and some algae, as well as the prokaryotes. By one definition, plants form the clade Viridiplantae which is sister of the Glaucophyta, and consists of the green algae and Embryophyta. The latter includes the flowering plants, conifers and other gymnosperms, ferns and their allies, hornworts, liverworts, and mosses.

Fertilizer

Fertilizer

A fertilizer or fertiliser is any material of natural or synthetic origin that is applied to soil or to plant tissues to supply plant nutrients. Fertilizers may be distinct from liming materials or other non-nutrient soil amendments. Many sources of fertilizer exist, both natural and industrially produced. For most modern agricultural practices, fertilization focuses on three main macro nutrients: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) with occasional addition of supplements like rock dust for micronutrients. Farmers apply these fertilizers in a variety of ways: through dry or pelletized or liquid application processes, using large agricultural equipment or hand-tool methods.

Agriculture

Agriculture

Agriculture or farming is the practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that enabled people to live in cities. The history of agriculture began thousands of years ago. After gathering wild grains beginning at least 105,000 years ago, nascent farmers began to plant them around 11,500 years ago. Sheep, goats, pigs and cattle were domesticated over 10,000 years ago. Plants were independently cultivated in at least 11 regions of the world. Industrial agriculture based on large-scale monoculture in the twentieth century came to dominate agricultural output, though about 2 billion people still depended on subsistence agriculture.

Horticulture

Horticulture

Horticulture is the branch of agriculture that deals with the art, science, technology, and business of plant cultivation. It includes the cultivation of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs, sprouts, mushrooms, algae, flowers, seaweeds and non-food crops such as grass and ornamental trees and plants. It also includes plant conservation, landscape restoration, landscape and garden design, construction, and maintenance, and arboriculture, ornamental trees and lawns.

Potassium chloride

Potassium chloride

Potassium chloride is a metal halide salt composed of potassium and chlorine. It is odorless and has a white or colorless vitreous crystal appearance. The solid dissolves readily in water, and its solutions have a salt-like taste. Potassium chloride can be obtained from ancient dried lake deposits. KCl is used as a fertilizer, in medicine, in scientific applications, domestic water softeners, and in food processing, where it may be known as E number additive E508.

Potassium nitrate

Potassium nitrate

Potassium nitrate is a chemical compound with the chemical formula KNO3. This alkali metal nitrate salt is also known as Indian saltpetre (large deposits of which were historically mined in India). It is an ionic salt of potassium ions K+ and nitrate ions NO3−, and is therefore an alkali metal nitrate. It occurs in nature as a mineral, niter (or nitre in the UK). It is a source of nitrogen, and nitrogen was named after niter. Potassium nitrate is one of several nitrogen-containing compounds collectively referred to as saltpeter (or saltpetre in the UK).

Labeling of fertilizer

Labeling of fertilizer

Many countries have standardized the labeling of fertilizers to indicate their contents of major nutrients. The most common labeling convention, the NPK or N-P-K label, shows the amounts of the chemical elements nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

Crop yield

Crop yield

In agriculture, the yield is a measurement of the amount of a crop grown, or product such as wool, meat or milk produced, per unit area of land. The seed ratio is another way of calculating yields.

Kainite

Kainite

Kainite ( or ) (KMg(SO4)Cl·3H2O) is an evaporite mineral in the class of "Sulfates (selenates, etc.) with additional anions, with H2O" according to the Nickel–Strunz classification. It is a hydrated potassium-magnesium sulfate-chloride, naturally occurring in irregular granular masses or as crystalline coatings in cavities or fissures. This mineral is dull and soft, and is colored white, yellowish, grey, reddish, or blue to violet. Its name is derived from Greek καινος [kainos] ("(hitherto) unknown"), as it was the first mineral discovered that contained both sulfate and chloride as anions. Kainite forms monoclinic crystals.

Langbeinite

Langbeinite

Langbeinite is a potassium magnesium sulfate mineral with the chemical formula K2Mg2(SO4)3. Langbeinite crystallizes in the isometric-tetartoidal (cubic) system as transparent colorless or white with pale tints of yellow to green and violet crystalline masses. It has a vitreous luster. The Mohs hardness is 3.5 to 4 and the specific gravity is 2.83. The crystals are piezoelectric.

Potassium citrate

Potassium citrate

Potassium citrate (also known as tripotassium citrate) is a potassium salt of citric acid with the molecular formula K3C6H5O7. It is a white, hygroscopic crystalline powder. It is odorless with a saline taste. It contains 38.28% potassium by mass. In the monohydrate form, it is highly hygroscopic and deliquescent.

Potassium chloride (medical use)

Potassium chloride (medical use)

Potassium chloride, also known as potassium salt, is used as a medication to treat and prevent low blood potassium. Low blood potassium may occur due to vomiting, diarrhea, or certain medications. The concentrated version should be diluted before use. It is given by slow injection into a vein or by mouth.

Precautions

Potassium metal can react violently with water producing potassium hydroxide (KOH) and hydrogen gas.

2 K(s) + 2 H2O(l) → 2 KOH(aq) + H2(g)↑
A reaction of potassium metal with water. Hydrogen is produced, and with potassium vapor, burns with a pink or lilac flame. Strongly alkaline potassium hydroxide is formed in solution.

This reaction is exothermic and releases sufficient heat to ignite the resulting hydrogen in the presence of oxygen. Finely powdered potassium ignites in air at room temperature. The bulk metal ignites in air if heated. Because its density is 0.89 g/cm3, burning potassium floats in water that exposes it to atmospheric oxygen. Many common fire extinguishing agents, including water, either are ineffective or make a potassium fire worse. Nitrogen, argon, sodium chloride (table salt), sodium carbonate (soda ash), and silicon dioxide (sand) are effective if they are dry. Some Class D dry powder extinguishers designed for metal fires are also effective. These agents deprive the fire of oxygen and cool the potassium metal.[127]

During storage, potassium forms peroxides and superoxides. These peroxides may react violently with organic compounds such as oils. Both peroxides and superoxides may react explosively with metallic potassium.[128]

Because potassium reacts with water vapor in the air, it is usually stored under anhydrous mineral oil or kerosene. Unlike lithium and sodium, however, potassium should not be stored under oil for longer than six months, unless in an inert (oxygen free) atmosphere, or under vacuum. After prolonged storage in air dangerous shock-sensitive peroxides can form on the metal and under the lid of the container, and can detonate upon opening.[129]

Ingestion of large amounts of potassium compounds can lead to hyperkalemia, strongly influencing the cardiovascular system.[130][131] Potassium chloride is used in the United States for lethal injection executions.[130]

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Potassium hydroxide

Potassium hydroxide

Potassium hydroxide is an inorganic compound with the formula KOH, and is commonly called caustic potash.

Hydrogen

Hydrogen

Hydrogen is the chemical element with the symbol H and atomic number 1. Hydrogen is the lightest element. At standard conditions hydrogen is a gas of diatomic molecules having the formula H2. It is colorless, odorless, tasteless, non-toxic, and highly combustible. Hydrogen is the most abundant chemical substance in the universe, constituting roughly 75% of all normal matter. Stars such as the Sun are mainly composed of hydrogen in the plasma state. Most of the hydrogen on Earth exists in molecular forms such as water and organic compounds. For the most common isotope of hydrogen each atom has one proton, one electron, and no neutrons.

Nitrogen

Nitrogen

Nitrogen is the chemical element with the symbol N and atomic number 7. Nitrogen is a nonmetal and the lightest member of group 15 of the periodic table, often called the pnictogens. It is a common element in the universe, estimated at seventh in total abundance in the Milky Way and the Solar System. At standard temperature and pressure, two atoms of the element bond to form N2, a colorless and odorless diatomic gas. N2 forms about 78% of Earth's atmosphere, making it the most abundant uncombined element. Nitrogen occurs in all organisms, primarily in amino acids (and thus proteins), in the nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) and in the energy transfer molecule adenosine triphosphate. The human body contains about 3% nitrogen by mass, the fourth most abundant element in the body after oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen. The nitrogen cycle describes the movement of the element from the air, into the biosphere and organic compounds, then back into the atmosphere.

Argon

Argon

Argon is a chemical element with the symbol Ar and atomic number 18. It is in group 18 of the periodic table and is a noble gas. Argon is the third-most abundant gas in Earth's atmosphere, at 0.934%. It is more than twice as abundant as water vapor, 23 times as abundant as carbon dioxide, and more than 500 times as abundant as neon. Argon is the most abundant noble gas in Earth's crust, comprising 0.00015% of the crust.

Sodium chloride

Sodium chloride

Sodium chloride, commonly known as salt, is an ionic compound with the chemical formula NaCl, representing a 1:1 ratio of sodium and chloride ions. With molar masses of 22.99 and 35.45 g/mol respectively, 100 g of NaCl contains 39.34 g Na and 60.66 g Cl. Sodium chloride is the salt most responsible for the salinity of seawater and of the extracellular fluid of many multicellular organisms. In its edible form of table salt, it is commonly used as a condiment and food preservative. Large quantities of sodium chloride are used in many industrial processes, and it is a major source of sodium and chlorine compounds used as feedstocks for further chemical syntheses. Another major application of sodium chloride is de-icing of roadways in sub-freezing weather.

Sodium carbonate

Sodium carbonate

Sodium carbonate, Na2CO3, (also known as washing soda, soda ash and soda crystals) is the inorganic compound with the formula Na2CO3 and its various hydrates. All forms are white, odourless, water-soluble salts that yield moderately alkaline solutions in water. Historically, it was extracted from the ashes of plants growing in sodium-rich soils. Because the ashes of these sodium-rich plants were noticeably different from ashes of wood (once used to produce potash), sodium carbonate became known as "soda ash". It is produced in large quantities from sodium chloride and limestone by the Solvay process.

Silicon dioxide

Silicon dioxide

Silicon dioxide, also known as silica, is an oxide of silicon with the chemical formula SiO2, most commonly found in nature as quartz and in various living organisms. In many parts of the world, silica is the major constituent of sand. Silica is one of the most complex and most abundant families of materials, existing as a compound of several minerals and as a synthetic product. Notable examples include fused quartz, fumed silica, silica gel, opal and aerogels. It is used in structural materials, microelectronics, and as components in the food and pharmaceutical industries.

Fire extinguisher

Fire extinguisher

A fire extinguisher is a handheld active fire protection device usually filled with a dry or wet chemical used to extinguish or control small fires, often in emergencies. It is not intended for use on an out-of-control fire, such as one which has reached the ceiling, endangers the user, or otherwise requires the equipment, personnel, resources, and/or expertise of a fire brigade. Typically, a fire extinguisher consists of a hand-held cylindrical pressure vessel containing an agent that can be discharged to extinguish a fire. Fire extinguishers manufactured with non-cylindrical pressure vessels also exist but are less common.

Organic compound

Organic compound

In chemistry, organic compounds are generally any chemical compounds that contain carbon-hydrogen or carbon-carbon bonds. Due to carbon's ability to catenate, millions of organic compounds are known. The study of the properties, reactions, and syntheses of organic compounds comprise the discipline known as organic chemistry. For historical reasons, a few classes of carbon-containing compounds, along with a few other exceptions, are not classified as organic compounds and are considered inorganic. Other than those just named, little consensus exists among chemists on precisely which carbon-containing compounds are excluded, making any rigorous definition of an organic compound elusive.

Hyperkalemia

Hyperkalemia

Hyperkalemia is an elevated level of potassium (K+) in the blood. Normal potassium levels are between 3.5 and 5.0 mmol/L (3.5 and 5.0 mEq/L) with levels above 5.5 mmol/L defined as hyperkalemia. Typically hyperkalemia does not cause symptoms. Occasionally when severe it can cause palpitations, muscle pain, muscle weakness, or numbness. Hyperkalemia can cause an abnormal heart rhythm which can result in cardiac arrest and death.

United States

United States

The United States of America, commonly known as the United States or informally America, is a country in North America. It consists of 50 states, a federal district, five major unincorporated territories, nine Minor Outlying Islands, and 326 Indian reservations. It is the third-largest country by both land and total area. The United States shares land borders with Canada to its north and with Mexico to its south. It has maritime borders with the Bahamas, Cuba, Russia, and other nations. With a population of over 331 million, it is the third most populous country in the world. The national capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city and financial center is New York City.

Lethal injection

Lethal injection

Lethal injection is the practice of injecting one or more drugs into a person for the express purpose of causing rapid death. The main application for this procedure is capital punishment, but the term may also be applied in a broader sense to include euthanasia and other forms of suicide. The drugs cause the person to become unconscious, stops their breathing, and causes a heart arrhythmia, in that order.

Source: "Potassium", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2022, November 25th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potassium.

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References
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    La dénomination de Potasche (potasse) que la nouvelle nomenclature françoise a consacrée comme nom de tout le genre, ne sauroit faire fortune auprès des chimistes allemands, qui sentent à quel point la dérivation étymologique en est vicieuse. Elle est prise en effet de ce qu'anciennement on se servoit pour la calcination des lessives concentrées des cendres, de pots de fer (pott en dialecte de la Basse-Saxe) auxquels on a substitué depuis des fours à calciner.
    Je propose donc ici, de substituer aux mots usités jusqu'ici d'alcali des plantes, alcali végétal, potasse, &c. celui de kali, & de revenir à l'ancienne dénomination de natron, au lieu de dire alcali minéral, soude &c."
    (This alkali [i.e., potash] — [which] therefore can no longer be viewed as a product of growth in plants — occupies a proper place in the originally simple series of the mineral realm, and it becomes necessary to assign it a name that is better suited to its nature.
    The name of "potash" (potasse), which the new French nomenclature has bestowed as the name of the entire species [i.e., substance], would not find acceptance among German chemists, who feel to some extent [that] the etymological derivation of it is faulty. Indeed, it is taken from [the vessels] that one formerly used for the roasting of washing powder concentrated from cinders: iron pots (pott in the dialect of Lower Saxony), for which roasting ovens have been substituted since then.
    Thus I now propose to substitute for the until now common words of "plant alkali", "vegetable alkali", "potash", etc., that of kali ; and to return to the old name of natron instead of saying "mineral alkali", "soda", etc.)
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Bibliography
External links
  • "Potassium". Drug Information Portal. U.S. National Library of Medicine.

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