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Potassium superoxide
Unit cell of potassium superoxide
IUPAC name
Other names Potassium superoxide
CAS number 12030-88-5
PubChem 61541
RTECS number TT6053000
Molecular formula KO2
Molar mass 71.0971 g/mol
Appearance yellow solid
Density 2.14 g/cm3, solid
Melting point

560 °C decomp.

Solubility in water decomposes
R-phrases 8-14-34
S-phrases 17-27-36/37/39
NFPA 704
NFPA 704.svg
Related compounds
Other anions Potassium oxide
Potassium peroxide
Other cations Sodium superoxide
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C, 100 kPa)
Infobox references

Potassium superoxide is the chemical compound with the formula KO2. This rare salt of the superoxide ion is produced by burning molten potassium in pure oxygen. Potassium superoxide is used as an oxidizing agent in industrial chemistry, as a CO2 scrubber, H2O dehumidifier and O2 generator in rebreathers, spacecraft, submarines and spacesuit life support systems.

Important reactions:

4 KO2 + 2 H2O → 4 KOH + 3 O2
2 KOH + CO2 → K2CO3 + H2O
K2CO3 + CO2 + H2O → 2 KHCO3

The Russian Space Agency has had success using potassium superoxide in chemical oxygen generators for its spacesuits and Soyuz spacecraft. KO2 has also been utilized in canisters for rebreathers for fire fighting and mine rescue work, but had limited use in scuba rebreathers because of the dangers of explosive reaction with water. The theoretical capacity of KO2 is the absorption of 0.309 kg CO2 per kg of absorbent while 0.38 kg O2 are generated per kg of absorbent. The human body though will produce more CO2 than oxygen absorbed, thus a device or absorbent specifically for CO2 scrubbing may also be required.

Structural trends in dioxygen compounds

The derivatives of dioxygen, O2, have characteristic O-O distances that correlate with the bond order of the O-O bond.

Dioxygen compound name O-O distance in Å O-O bond order
O2+ dioxygenyl cation 1.12 2.5
O2 dioxygen 1.21 2
O2- superoxide 1.28 1.5[1]
O22- peroxide 1.49 1


  1. ^ Abrahams, S. C.; Kalnajs, J. “The Crystal Structure of α-Potassium Superoxide” Acta Crystallographica (1955) volume 8, pages 503-506. DOI:10.1107/S0365110X55001540.

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