Potassium hydroxide (KOH), commonly known as caustic potash, is an inorganic compound with a strongly alkaline base. It is a colorless solid with many industrial and niche applications. Potassium hydroxide is easily dissolved in water producing a highly exothermic reaction. Less than 1 million tons potassium hydroxide are produced annually.
What are Some Applications of Potassium Hydroxide in the Industry?
Potassium hydroxide has similar characteristics to sodium hydroxide and is used in similar industries, but for different applications, mainly due to its costs and degree of solubility in water. Industrial uses and applications include:
- Precursor to other potassium compounds: Potassium hydroxide is mainly used as a precursor to creating potassium salt compounds including those of cyanide, carbonate, phosphate and permanganate. Potassium phosphate is prominently used in fertilizers.
- Manufacture of biodiesel: Potassium hydroxide, although more expensive than utilizing sodium hydroxide, operates well in the production of biodiesel from vegetable oil.
- Manufacture of soft soaps: The so-called potassium soaps are softer than the more widespread sodium hydroxide derived soaps. Potassium soaps require less water and therefore can contain more cleaning material and thus are preferred for the creation of soft soaps.
- Manufacture of alkaline batteries: Since potassium solution is more conductive than sodium hydroxide, it is preferred as an electrolyte in the production of alkaline batteries.
What are the Properties of Potassium Hydroxide that will Affect Your Chemical Pump Choice?
Figure 1: Potassium Hydroxide Concentrations and Pump Materials
A single or collection of material/s may be rated for a higher temperature/s then the pump as a whole is capable of. It is important to contact a March representative to determine if the pump as a complete unit is suitable for the concentration and temperature of any chemical.
Potassium hydroxide has many similar characteristics to sodium hydroxide. They are both highly caustic and corrosive and require special workforce and equipment considerations to handle the compounds. The specific gravity of potassium hydroxide depends greatly on its concentration; while 1 at a 1 percent concentration, it increases to 1.5 at a 50 percent concentration. Potassium hydroxide has also a relatively high freezing point and if the fluid sits in the pump for longer periods, it may freeze. On the other hand, increasing the potassium hydroxide’s temperature will have an exponential effect on its corrosive nature.
As with most chemical fluids, leak free pumping solutions, like mag drive pumps, are recommended.
What Pumps can Manage Potassium Hydroxide and at What Temperature and Viscosity?
March Pumps has a wide range of industrial pumps specially designed to handle Potassium Hydroxide. These pumps range from 5 GPM to larger capacities of 200 GPM for virtually any need.
Depending on temperature and concentration, potassium hydroxide can be heavy. If the special gravity is more than 1.1, it is absolutely necessary to use a trimmed impeller to avoid decoupling or overloading the motor.
For pumping potassium hydroxide at room temperature, a sealless magnetic drive pump built with polypropylene or Ryton plastic with the appropriate Teflon O-ring and suitable Carbon/Ryton combination bushing is recommended.
Choosing the Right Potassium Hydroxide Pump
There are many parameters which should be taken into account when choosing the suitable pump for a particular use case. These parameters include, but are not limited to, compound concentration, working temperatures, gravity of the chemical and the materials used in the pump itself.
Here at March Pump, we exhibit a wide range of chemical industrial pumps that cover virtually any possible requirement. For further info we encourage you to contact our friendly support team and our experts will be happy to help. You can give us a call or contact us online.