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Alkali Metals

Potassium metal was discovered in 1807 by Sir Humphrey Davy upon electrolysis of molten potash. The English name for the element potassium is derived from the word “Potash”. The elemental symbol, K, (and the German name “Kalium”) comes from the Arabic al kalzum, meaning ashes.

Sodium-Potassium Alloy (NaK) can activate benzylic hydrogens of toluene for coupling to olefins and facilitate isomerization and coupling reactions of various other unsaturated hydrocarbons. While NaK is supplied as a liquid metal, it is typically dispersed on a carbonate support to maximize surface area of the insoluble metal. Potassium metal is also available (m.p. 63.5 °C) for similar applications.