Potassium is one of the most common elements but whether potassium conducts electricity is a common question. We’ll answer this and more below.
To answer the question, Yes, potassium is a good electrical conductor. It has a bigger atomic radius because it has four shells and only one electron in the shell on the outside. So, it has lower ionization energy and more free electrons, which makes it a good conductor of electricity.
I will go into more detail below.
Why does Potassium Conduct Electricity?
Potassium is a reactive element. When exposed to air, it effortlessly combines with oxygen to make white potassium peroxide. It is an alkali metal, meaning its outermost shell has only one electron. This single electron is easily removed to make ions with a positive charge (cation).
Potassium in an aqueous solution breaks up into potassium ions, which are free to move around in the solution & act as a way for electricity to move through the solution when there is a difference in potential across the solution.
2K + 2H2O ——> 2KOH (potassium hydroxide) + H2 (hydrogen gas)
Potassium Hydroxide in an aqueous solution is a good conductor. When it is solid, potassium hydroxide doesn’t carry electricity. Only when it is molten can it bring electricity. Potassium Hydroxide is an ionic compound, so when it’s a liquid, the free ions can quickly move and carry electricity.
It’s important to remember that electrons moving through a material is the main thing that makes it conduct electricity—electric current moves along with the help of free electrons. If a substance doesn’t have any free or delocalized electrons, the electrons can’t move across it. This makes it an insulator, or something that doesn’t let electricity flow well through it.
On the other hand, potassium has a lot of free electrons, which can help move the mobile electrons that carry the electricity.
Potassium’s atomic radius is bigger because it has 4 electronic shells. And there is only one electron in the outermost shell. This means that it takes less energy to get rid of the valence electron. Potassium has an ionization energy of 419 kJ/mol.
Ionization energy is the minimum amount of energy that is needed to take the valence electron out of the atom.
Potassium is also a good heat conductor because it has a lot of free electrons. The free electrons also help heat move through the metal. Thermal conductance comes from the way free electrons move around.
How to Test Whether Potassium Iodide Solution Can Conduct Electricity?
There are several ways to determine how conductive a potassium iodide solution is. An electrolysis test is one of the easiest and simplest ways to find out.
You can do an electrolysis test by placing two electrodes, each attached to a battery, in the solution without touching. Bubble formation at the electrodes indicates an electrically conductive fluid. The water gives off oxygen and hydrogen gases, which make these bubbles.
The electrode with a positive charge, called the anode, makes the oxygen gas, and the electrode with a negative charge, called the cathode, makes the hydrogen gas. Look at the diagram below to see what I mean.
You can also connect a small DC bulb or an LED to the circuit. A solution that lets electricity flow through it will behave as a switch and close a circuit. The amount of light is directly related to how well the solution conducts electricity and how far apart the electrodes are. You can also connect a voltmeter or an ohmmeter if you desire a more accurate and precise measurement.
Potassium Cool Facts
Potassium is a chemical element that belongs to the 1st periodic table group. It is a type of metal called an alkali metal. It’s the seventh most common element in the crust of the Earth. It makes up 2.6% of the mass of the whole planet. Potassium is taken from minerals, sediments, and igneous rocks. It is a soft white-silver metal that can be cut easily with a knife.
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