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Minerals in Detail


Chemical Details | Description | Industrial Applications | In Nature | Health Impacts


Enjoy Life Potassium

POTASSIUM



Potassium - chemical details
SymbolK
Atomic number19
Atomic mass39.0983 g.mol-1
Electronegativity0.8 (according to Pauling)
Density0.86 g.cm-3 at 0 C
Melting point63.2 C
Boiling point760 C
Vanderwaals radius0.235 nm
Ionic radius0.133 (+1)
Isotopes5
Electronic configuration[ Ar ] 4s1
Energy of first ionisation418.6 kJ.mol-1
Energy of second ionisation3052 kJmol-1
Energy of third ionisation4420 kJmol-1
Standard potential-2.931
Discovered1808 - Sir Humphry Davy



Chemical Details | Description | Industrial Applications | In Nature | Health Impacts


Potassium - Description
The name is derived from the English word potash. The chemical symbol K comes from kalium, the Mediaeval Latin for potash, which may have derived from the Arabic word qali, meaning alkali.

Potassium, a member of the alkali group of the periodic chart, is a soft, silvery-white metal when first cut but it oxidizes rapidly in air and tarnishes within minutes, so it is generally stored under oil or grease. It is light enough to float on water with which it reacts instantly to release hydrogen, which burns with a lilac flame.

The chemistry of potassium is almost entirely that of the potassium ion, K+.



Chemical Details | Description | Industrial Applications | In Nature | Health Impacts


Potassium - Industrial applications
By far the biggest industrial use is in fertiliser. The remainder goes into television manufacture, pharmaceuticals, baking and tanning. For details on industrial applications and impact on the environment see www.lenntech.com/Periodic-chart-elements/K-en.htm



Chemical Details | Description | Industrial Applications | In Nature | Health Impacts


Potassium - In natural form
Most potassium occurs in the Earth's crust as minerals, such as feldspars and clays. Potassium is leached from the soil by weathering, which explains why there is quite a lot of this element in the sea (0.75 g/liter). Minerals mined for their potassium are sylvite, carnallite and alunite. The main mining area used to be Germany, which had a Potassium monopoly before the First World War. Today most potassium minerals come from Canada, the USA and Chile. The world production of potassium ores is about 50 million tonnes, and reserves are vast (more than 10 billion tonnes).

Potassium is a key plant element. Although it is soluble in water, little is lost from undisturbed soils because as it is released from dead plants and animal excrements, it quickly becomes strongly bound to clay particles, and it is retained ready to be re-absorbed by the roots of other plants.



Chemical Details | Description | Industrial Applications | In Nature | Health Impacts


Potassium - Impact on health
Potassium can be found in vegetables, fruit, potatoes, meat, bread, milk and nuts.

It plays an important role in the physical fluid system of humans and it assists nerve functions. Potassium, as the ion K+, concentrates inside cells, and 95% of the body's potassium is to be found in the cells. When kidneys are somehow malfunctioning an accumulation of potassium will occur. This can disturb heart rhythm.

Potassium cations are important in neuron (brain and nerve) function, and in influencing osmotic balance between cells and the interstitial fluid.1

Potassium is also important in allowing muscle contraction and the sending of all nerve impulses in animals through action potentials. By nature of their electrostatic and chemical properties, K+ ions are larger than Na+ ions, and ion channels and pumps in cell membranes can distinguish between the two types of ions, actively pumping or passively allowing one of the two ions to pass, while blocking the other.2



    References:
  1. Campbell, N. (1987). Biology, Benjamin Cummins:NY. P. 795.
  2. Lockless, S., Zhou, M., & MacKinnon, R. (). Structural and thermodynamic properties of selective ion binding in a K+ channel. PLos Biol. 2007 May; 5(5): e121. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17472437. Retrieved 24 Sep 2008.






 
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Enjoy Life health & wellbeing
Enjoy Life health & wellbeing