Nickel Facts – Amazing Facts that You Should Learn Today

by Virupakshi
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nickel electronic configuration - nickel facts

If you were thinking of reading some amazing nickel facts, look no further, your search ends here. To start with, nickel stands at 28th place in the periodic table. 

It is used in multiple ways in day to day’s life and we just can’t imagine what humankind would have done if there was no nickel (we are not kidding). 

From shape-remembering alloy to a basic part and parcel of our utensils, nickel element has crept its way into our lives in an indispensable way. Read this amazing nickel facts article and learn how cool nickel is!

Quick Nickel Facts  

Nickel is the 28th element in the periodic table which means the atomic number of Nickel is 28.

The symbol of Nickel is Ni. It has an atomic mass of 58.6934. 

It belongs to period 4 and group 10. It belongs to d-block. 

It is a transition metal. Its electronic configuration is [Ar] 4s23d8 or 1s22s22p63s23p64s23d8.

It is solid and is silver in color with a golden tinge. 

It has a melting point of 1455 °C or ​2651 °F or 1728 K.

It has a boiling point of 2730 °C or ​4946 °F or 3003 K.

It has a density of 8.908 gm/cm3 when it is solid 

The atomic radius of Nickel is 124 picometers. 

The crystal structure of Nickel is face-centered-cubic. 

Mohs hardness of Nickel is 4.0.

It is a ferromagnetic element. 

Its natural occurrence is primordial (molecules which are primordial were present in the current form even before the formation of the Earth). 

Isotopes of Nickel

Before we start our Nickel facts, let us quickly learn about the isotopes of Nickel. There are in total of 33 isotopes of Nickel.

Name of the isotope Type and AbundanceHalf-Life (HL)
48NiRadioactive>500 ns
49NiRadioactive13 ms
50NiRadioactive9.1 ms
51NiRadioactive>200 ns
52NiRadioactive38 ms
53NiRadioactive45 ms
54NiRadioactive104 ms
55NiRadioactive204.7 ms
56NiRadioactive6.075 d
57NiRadioactive35.60 h
58NiStable (68.077% abundance)Stable so no half-life
59NiRadioactive7.6*104
60NiStable (26.223% abundance)Stable so no half-life
61NiStable (1.140% abundance)Stable so no half-life
62NiStable (3.635% abundance)Stable so no half-life
63NiRadioactive100.1 y
64NiStable (0.926% abundance)Stable so no half-life
65NiRadioactive2.52 h
66NiRadioactive54.6 h
67NiRadioactive21 s
68NiRadioactive29 s
69NiRadioactive11.5 s
70NiRadioactive6.0 s
71NiRadioactive2.56 s
72NiRadioactive1.57 s
73NiRadioactive0.84 s
74NiRadioactive0.68 s
75NiRadioactive0.62 s
76NiRadioactive470 ms
77NiRadioactive>300 ns
78NiRadioactive>300 ns
79NiRadioactive43 ms
80NiRadioactive24 ms

References:

ns – nanoseconds

ms – milliseconds

s – seconds

h – hours

d – days

y – years

lumpy nickel piece
A Lumpy Nickel Piece | By Materialscientist at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Nickel Facts: Discovery of Nickel 

Nickel and iron are both present in meteorites. The usage of Nickel is seen for ages. The use of Nickel can be traced back to 3500 BCE. 

Bronze found in today’s Syria had 2% Nickel in it. Ancient Chinese manuscripts mentioned white copper which was used between 1700 and 1400 BCE. 

Bactrian kings used coins of copper and nickel in 2nd BCE. 

A red mineral was found in Erzgebirge (ore mountains) in medieval Germany. Germans believed that it was copper. 

However, after several failed attempts of extracting copper from the red mineral, they blamed it on some German fairy or elf, Nickel from German mythology.

nickeline
Nickeline | By Didier Descouens – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

They named the ore as Kupfernickel. This ore is now known as nickeline. 

Baron Axel Fredrick Cronstedt, in 1751, tried to extract copper from the ore which he mined from in Los, a Swedish village. 

He instead produced a white metal and he named it after the German spirit or fairy, Nickel. 

The only original source of nickel is kupfernickel. From 1924, nickel was produced as a byproduct during cobalt blue production. 

Large-scale production of nickel started in 1848 in Norway from pyrrhotite, a nickel-rich ore. 

1889 saw the introduction of nickel in the production of steel which significantly increased the demand for nickel. 

Deposits of nickel which were found in New Caledonia in 1865 produced most of the nickel to the world between the years 1875 and 1915.

Large deposits of nickel were found in Canada’s Sudbury Basin in 1883, Russia’s Norilsk-Talnakh in 1920, and South Africa’s Merensky Reef in 1924 ramped up the production of nickel. 

Properties of Nickel 

As mentioned in quick nickel facts, nickel is solid. It has a silvery-white appearance with a slight golden tinge. 

One of the fascinating nickel facts is that it is one of the four metals that are magnetic at room temperature. The other three metals are copper, iron, and gadolinium. 

It is a transition metal. It is also malleable, hard, and ductile. They have high thermal and electrical conductivity. 

Bulk nickel doesn’t retain its magnetism at any temperature above 355 degrees Celsius or 671 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The most common oxidation state of nickel is +2. But many compounds of nickel with oxidation states of 0, +1, +3, +4, -1, and -2 are found. 

nickel facts - different colors of different compounds of nickel
Different colors of different nickel compounds | By LHcheM – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Different compounds of nickel produce different colors.

A dispute in electronic configuration

Scientists are not on the same page when it comes to the electronic configuration of nickel. 

Some believe that the electronic configuration of nickel is [Ar] 4s23d8 and others say that nickel’s electronic configuration is [Ar] 4s13d9.

It is to be noted that the electronic configuration of any element must have the lowest energy possible during the arrangement of electrons. 

Some theories and rules like Madelung energy ordering rule support [Ar] 4s23d8 and others like atomic calculations support [Ar] 4s1 3d9.

Applications of nickel 

Nickel element is used in several ways in today’s world. Nickel is used for the production of stainless steel (68% of nickel produced is used here), minting coins, electric guitar strings, electroplating (9% of nickel produced is used for electroplating), etc. 

10% of produced nickel is used in the production of nonferrous alloys such as Elinvar, invar, permalloy, etc. 3% of the total nickel produced is used for foundries and the rest 4% is used for other uses such as rechargeable batteries, microphone capsules, plumbing fixtures, etc. 

When used in making alloys or in the production of stainless steel, nickel increases the elastic limit, toughness, corrosion-resistant, and tensile strength. 

Other alloys that were produced by using nickel are Monel, Incoloy, Inconel, etc. Nickel is also used when making alloys of copper, aluminum, cobalt, chromium, etc.

Gas diffusion electrodes use nickel mesh or nickel foam for alkaline fuel cells. 

Nickel and its alloys are also used as catalysts for hydrogenation chemical reactions. 

Nickel undergoes a slight change in its length when it is in the presence of a magnetic field. 

This particular factor is the reason why nickel is used for binding cemented tungsten carbide. It makes the cemented tungsten carbide magnetic. 

When we talk about the use of total nickel produced in terms of usage in different industries, the details are – 27% in engineering, 20% for metal products, 14% for tubular products, 14% for transport, 10% for construction and building, and the rest 5% for other miscellaneous uses.

Abundance and Availability of Nickel

Nickel is mostly found with sulfur, arsenic, and iron compounds. As mentioned in one of the above nickel facts, nickel is commonly found along with iron in meteorites as taenite and kamacite alloys. 

Joseph-Louis Proust, a French chemist discovered the presence of nickel in 1799. 

Most of the nickel is mined from two kinds of ores – laterites (ores of laterite type include limonite and garnierite) and magmatic sulfides (ores include pentlandite). 

60% of the nickel is produced from laterites and 40% of the nickel is produced from magmatic sulfides. 

45% of the world reserves of nickel are present in Australia and New Caledonia. 

It is considered that nickel is present in both the inner and outer core of Earth. 

Earth’s crust has around 84 ppm of nickel by weight and the solar system contains 80 ppm by weight. 

A total of 2.3 million tonnes of nickel is produced each year. The top 5 countries in the world in terms of nickel production are Indonesia, The Philippines, Russia, New Caledonia, and Australia. 

Other countries that produce a lot of nickel are Canada, Finland, and Greece. 

Nickel is also found in deep seas and ocean floors, particularly in the Pacific Ocean. 

USA’s Oregon is the only region that profitably mines nickel. However, the mine was closed in 1987. 

The Eagle mine project in Michigan started in 2014 and it mined a total of 18,000 tons of nickel in one year. 

One of the interesting nickel facts is that 75% of pure nickel can be used without the need for any purification. 

Nickel Facts: Biological Role of Nickel 

Nickel is necessary for many plants, archaebacteria, eubacteria, and fungi. 

Nickel is also present in hydrogenated oils, margarine, etc. 

Us Institute of Medicine has not confirmed that nickel is necessary for the human body so daily intake of nickel is also not provided. 

However, some bacteria that are present in the human gut need nickel. 

On average, humans consume 70 to 100 μg of nickel per day. 

One of the shocking nickel facts is that one serving of tomato sauce produced in a stainless steel utensil which was used for cooking 10 times contains 88 μg of nickel. 

Usually, nickel is not harmful to the human body but larger doses of nickel can be toxic and even carcinogenic. 

Excessive exposure to nickel causes respiratory tumors, respiratory cancers, and shows prenatal mortality effects in pregnant animals. 

Inhaling huge quantities of nickel is also dangerous. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has set 1 mg/m3 for 8 hours as the legal limit of exposure to nickel for the workplace. 

At 10 mg/m3 nickel is extremely dangerous to life and health. 

Exposure to nickel also causes contact dermatitis. 

Did you know American Contact Dermatitis Society voted nickel as Allergen of the Year in the year 2008?

Price of Nickel

Pure nickel costs about USD 7.7 per 100 grams and bulk nickel costs about USD 1.9 per 100 grams. 

Other Nickel Facts

99.99% of the five-cent coins used by Canada from 1922 to 1981 consisted of nickel. 

During the second world wartime, nickel was used to make armor.

Switzerland used nickel coins for the first time in 1881.

Birmingham started minting nickel coins from 1833 for trading Malaya. 

USA’s Flying Eagle cent consisted of 12% nickel from 1857 to 1858. Indian Head cent also consisted of nickel from 1859 to 1864.

The term then changed to Three cent nickel with an increase in the nickel’s percentage (25%) from 1865. 

From 1866, a five-cent nickel consisted of 25% nickel and 75% copper. 

Due to the high price of nickel, many countries have reduced using nickel for minting coins.

A kilogram of nickel can be drawn into a 300 kilometer-long wire. 

Glass gets green color when nickel is added to it.

Supernova 2007bi’s explosion created a mass of the element nickel three times greater than the Sun!

Nitinol is an alloy of nickel and titanium. The special thing about this alloy is that when you heat this alloy, it becomes malleable and you can bend to give the desired shape of your choice, and once cooled, you can bend it into another shape. Now, if you reheat it, it takes the earlier shape. 

Ancient Egyptians shaped meteorites into beautiful objects. Tube shaped beads were found in Gerzeh cemetery’s grave pits on the western bank of River Nile. The beads were buried around 3300 BCE. 

Do you know anything about Mu-metal? Mu-metal is a metal that can dispel any magnetic attraction between a metal and a magnet. Nickel is extensively used to make this Mu-metal.

We will wind up our article with these general nickel facts. If you think we missed out on any of the facts and you want us to include it in the list, just drop a comment below. 

Sources:

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