Potassium oxide (K2O) is an ionic compound of potassium and oxygen. This pale yellow solid, the simplest oxide of potassium, is a rarely encountered, highly reactive compound. Some materials of commerce, such as fertilizers and cements, are assayed assuming the percent composition that would be equivalent to the chemical compound mixture K2O.
Potassium oxide is produced from the reaction of oxygen and potassium; this reaction affords potassium peroxide, K2O2. Treatment of the peroxide with potassium produces the oxide:
K2O2 + 2 K → 2 K2O
Alternatively and more conveniently, K2O is synthesized by heating potassium nitrate with metallic potassium:
Other possibility is to heat potassium peroxide at 500 °C which decomposes at that temperature giving pure potassium oxide and oxygen.
Potassium hydroxide cannot be further dehydrated to the oxide but it can react with molten potassium to produce it, releasing hydrogen as a byproduct.
Properties and reactions
K2O crystallises in the antifluorite structure. In this motif the positions of the anions and cations are reversed relative to their positions in CaF2, with potassium ions coordinated to 4 oxide ions and oxide ions coordinated to 8 potassium.<ref>Wells, A.F. (1984) Structural Inorganic Chemistry, Oxford: O is a basic oxide and reacts with water violently to produce the caustic potassium hydroxide. It is deliquescent and will absorb water from the atmosphere, initiating this vigorous reaction.
^ abcWyckoff, Ralph W.G. (1935). The Structure of Crystals. American Chemical Society (2nd ed.). Reinhold Publishing Corp. p. 25.
^ abcDipotassium oxide in Linstrom, Peter J.; Mallard, William G. (eds.); NIST Chemistry WebBook, NIST Standard Reference Database Number 69, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg (MD), http://webbook.nist.gov (retrieved 2014-07-04)
^Holleman, A. F.; Wiberg, E. "Inorganic Chemistry" Academic Press: San Diego, 2001. ISBN0-12-352651-5.
^Zintl, E.; Harder, A.; Dauth B. (1934). "Gitterstruktur der oxyde, sulfide, selenide und telluride des lithiums, natriums und kaliums". Zeitschrift für Elektrochemie und Angewandte Physikalische Chemie. 40: 588–93.