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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?