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Nickel

What Is Nickel?

Nickel is a lustrous silvery-white metallic metal with a slight golden tinge. It is part of the transition metals of the chemical elements group. Nickel occurs in nature principally as oxides, sulphides and silicates. Nickel is considered corrosion-resistant due to its stability in air and slow rate of oxidation, and is therefore used as an alloy with other metals.

INSG states:

“It has a melting point of 1453° C, relatively low thermal and electrical conductivities, high resistance to corrosion and oxidation, excellent strength and toughness at elevated temperatures, and is capable of being magnetized. It is attractive and very durable as a pure metal, and alloys readily with many other metals.”

What Is Nickel Used For?

INSG also mentions that nickel “is used in over 300,000 products for consumer, industrial, military, transport/aerospace, marine and architectural applications.” About 60% of world production is used in nickel-steels, mostly stainless steel. Finely powdered nickel aluminium alloy is used as a catalyst for hydrogenating vegetable oils. Other products containing nickel are:
  • Coins
  • Magnets
  • Rechargeable batteries
  • Armour plating
  • Green tinted glass
  • Ceramics
  • Microphone capsules
  • Electric guitar strings
  • Alloys
Nickel also has a biological role. According to Wikipedia:

“Nickel plays important roles in the biology of microorganisms and plants.In fact urease (an enzyme which assists in the hydrolysis of urea) contains nickel.”

Where Is Nickel Produced?

Deposits of nickel ore are located in over 20 countries with the largest producer being Russia followed by Ontario, Australia, Cuba, Turkey and Indonesia.

Conclusion

Nickel has been used in a wide variety of products and industries, and with its recyclable qualities it is truly a versatile metal. It also has biological applications in microorganisms and plants. Some people with skin sensitivities can become allergic to nickel thus the removal of nickel from jewellery and coinage has been enforced in some countries.

Exposure to pure nickel and its compounds need to be limited as it can become toxic. During some chemical processes it emits toxic gases and becomes carcinogenic.

If you would like to learn more about minerals and mining visit our Mining and Metals page.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

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