Sources of Potassium
Potassium is an indicator of a coolant leak, often in conjunction with sodium and/or boron; these elements are present due to the additives used in many coolant formulations. The presence of these elements alongside detected glycol and water often indicate a severe or bottom-end leak, but the absence of glycol and water typically represent a top-end leak where the liquid portion of the coolant is being combusted or boiled out of the system
Potassium is also an indicator of airborne particulate ingression from fly ash or smoke. The fly ash or smoke need not be visible, nor nearby, the only criteria is that the asset be located within the fallout zone. Forest fire smoke frequently migrates hundreds and hundreds of miles, and will last for nearly as long as the original fire burned. This form of particulate is small enough to pass through even high-quality particulate breathers.
This is the last article in the Elemental Spectroscopy blog series.