Problem: Potassium superoxide, KO2, is often used in oxygen masks (such as those used by firefighters) because KO2 reacts with CO2 to release molecular oxygen. Experiments indicate that 2 mol of KO2 (s) react with each mole of CO2(g).What elements are being oxidized and reduced?

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We have to determine which elements are being oxidized and reduced when potassium superoxide (KO2) reacts with carbon dioxide (CO2).


We will first write a balanced chemical reaction and then determine the oxidation states to check for oxidation or reduction.


The reaction between KO2 and CO2 produces K2CO3 and O2.

KO2(s) + CO2(g) → K2CO3(s) + O2(g)

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Problem Details

Potassium superoxide, KO2, is often used in oxygen masks (such as those used by firefighters) because KO2 reacts with CO2 to release molecular oxygen. Experiments indicate that 2 mol of KO2 (s) react with each mole of CO2(g).

What elements are being oxidized and reduced?

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What scientific concept do you need to know in order to solve this problem?

Our tutors have indicated that to solve this problem you will need to apply the Redox Reactions concept. You can view video lessons to learn Redox Reactions. Or if you need more Redox Reactions practice, you can also practice Redox Reactions practice problems.

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Based on our data, we think this problem is relevant for Professor Maxwell's class at UCF.