a white metallic
chemical element often used in alloys
The name nickel comes
from the German kupfernickel, or false
copper, a reddish ore containing nickel but no copper.
atomic weight 58.71 amu
boiling point ~2,730° C
Nickel is magnetic, takes a
high polish, and does not tarnish easily or rust.
It can be hammered into thin sheets or drawn into
wires. One pound of pure nickel can be drawn into
a wire 80 miles long.
Nickel ranks about 22nd in
natural abundance among elements in crustal rock.
The chief mineral ore of nickel
is pentlandite, a mixture of sulfur,
iron, and nickel. Other nickel ores include millerite
and niccolite. Sulfide ores are usually
smelted in a blast furnace and shipped in the
form of a matte of copper and nickel sulfide to
refineries, where the nickel is removed by
Canada is the world's leading
producer of nickel, with about a fourth of the
world's supply coming the Sudbury District of
Ontario. Australia, Cuba, New Caledonia, and
Russia are also important nickel-producing areas.
Nickel is used in structural
work and electroplating chiefly because of its
resistance to corrosion.
Perhaps the largest use for
nickel is as an additive to cast iron and steel.
It improves the properties of these substances in
many ways. It makes iron more ductile and
increases its resistance to corrosion, and makes
steel more resistant to impact. For this reason
manufacturers frequently use steel alloyed with
nickel to make armor plate and machine parts.
Invar, an alloy of
nickel, iron, and other metals, is valued for
meter scales and pendulum rods because it expands
or contracts very little as its temperature
Monel Metal is an
alloy of copper and nickel used in sheet-metal
Nickel Silver is a
nickel alloy used in tableware.
The U.S. five-cent piece,
commonly known as a nickel, is made from an alloy
of 75% copper and 25% nickel.
Nickel is also a key component
of nickel-cadmium batteries.
Nickel was used as coinage in
nickel-copper alloys for several thousand years,
but was not recognized as an elemental substance
until 1751, when the Swedish chemist Axel
Cronstedt isolated the metal from niccolite ore.
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