Nickel is the first element in the tenth column of the periodic table. It is classified as a transition metal. Nickel atoms have 28 electrons and 28 protons with 30 neutrons in the most abundant isotope.
Characteristics and Properties
Under standard conditions nickel is a silvery-white metal that is fairly hard, but malleable.
Nickel is one of the few elements that is magnetic at room temperature. Nickel can be polished to a shine and resists corrosion. It is also a decent conductor of electricity and heat.
Where is nickel found on Earth?
Nickel is one of the primary elements of the Earth's core which is thought to be made mostly of nickel and iron. It is also found in the Earth's crust where it is about the twenty-second most abundant element.
Most nickel that is mined for industrial use is found in ores such as pentlandite, garnierite, and limonite. The largest producers of nickel are Russia, Canada, and Australia.
Nickel is also found in meteorites where it is often found in conjunction with iron. A large nickel deposit in Canada is thought be from a giant meteorite that crashed to earth thousands of years ago.
How is nickel used today?
The majority of nickel that is mined today is used to make nickel steels and alloys. Nickel steels, such as stainless steel, are strong and corrosion resistant. Nickel is often combined with iron and other metals to make strong magnets.
Other applications for nickel include batteries, coins, guitar strings, and armor plate. Many nickel based batteries are rechargeable like the NiCad (nickel cadmium) battery and the NiMH (nickel-metal hydride) battery.
How was it discovered?
Nickel was first isolated and discovered by Swedish chemist Axel Cronstedt in 1751.
Where did nickel get its name?
Nickel gets its name from the German word "kupfernickel" which means "devil's copper." German miners named ore containing nickel "kupfernickel" because, although they thought the ore contained copper, they were unable to extract any copper from it. They blamed their troubles with this ore on the devil.
Nickel has five stable isotopes that occur naturally including nickel-58, 60, 61, 62, and 64. The most abundant isotope is nickel-58.
Nickel exists in oxidation states of -1 to +4. The most common is +2.
Interesting Facts about Nickel
The U.S. five cent coin, the "nickel", is composed of 75% copper and 25% nickel.
It is the second most abundant element in the Earth's core after iron.
Nickel plays a role in the cells of plants and some microorganisms.
It is sometimes added to glass to give it a green color.
The nickel-titanium alloy nitinol has the ability to remember its shape. After changing its shape (bending it), it will return to its original shape when heated.
About 39% of the nickel used each year comes from recycling.
Other elements that are ferromagnetic like nickel are iron and cobalt which are both close to nickel on the periodic table.