Nickel Chemistry

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Nickel Chemistry

Post by Algerien1970 on Sat 13 Jun - 23:25


Nickel had been in use centuries before its actual discovery and isolation. As far back as 3500 BC Syrian bronzes contained a small amount of the element. In 235 BC, coins in China were minted from nickel. However there was no real documentation of the element until thousands of years later. 

In the 17thcentury, German miners discovered a red coloured ore they believed to contain copper. They discovered upon analysis that there was no copper but that a useless, smelly material was actually present. Thinking the ore was evil they dubbed it "Kupfernickel" or Old Nick's Copper, which meant false or bad copper. Swedish scientist Baron Axel Frederich Cronstedt in 1751 finally isolated nickel from an ore closely resembling kupfernickel. Hence, he named this new element after the traditional mineral. 

At the time of its discovery nickel was thought to be useless but over time as its valuable properties came to light the demand for the metal dramatically increased. The usefulness of nickel as a material in alloys was eventually appreciated since it added to the strength, corrosion resistance and hardness of the other metals. In the 1800s, the technique of silver plating was developed with a nickel-copper-zinc alloy being utilised in the process. Today, stainless steel, another nickel containing alloy, is recognised as one of the most valuable materials of the 20th and 21st centuries.

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Re: Nickel Chemistry

Post by Algerien1970 on Sat 13 Jun - 23:29

Nickel Element

Discovery of Nickel

Dr. Doug Stewart

Nickel is present in metallic meteorites and so has been in use since ancient times.

Artifacts made from metallic meteorites have been found dating from as early as 5000 BC – for example beads in graves in Egypt.(1)

Iron is the most abundant element in metallic meteorites, followed by nickel.

It was not until the 1750s that nickel was discovered to be an element.

In the 1600s, a dark red ore, often with a green coating, had been a source of irritation for copper miners in Saxony, Germany. They believed the dark red substance was an ore of copper, but they had been unable to extract any copper from it.

In frustration, they had named it ‘kupfernickel’ which could be translated as ‘goblin’s copper’ because clearly, from the miners’ point of view at any rate, there were goblins or little imps at work, preventing them extracting the copper.

Between 1751 and 1754, the Swedish chemist Axel Cronstedt carried out a number of experiments to determine the true nature of kupfernickel. (We now know that kupfernickel is nickel arsenide, NiAs.)

After finding that its chemical reactions were not what he would have expected from a copper compound, he heated kupfernickel with charcoal to yield a hard, white metal, whose color alone showed it could not be copper. Its properties, including its magnetism, led him to conclude that he had isolated a new metallic element.

Cronstedt named the new element nickel, after the kupfernickel from which he had isolated it. (2), (3), (4)

There is a satisfying symmetry in this discovery. Cronstedt was a pupil of George Brandt, who had discovered cobalt, which sits immediately to the left of nickel in the periodic table.

The names of both elements have their origins in the frustrations of miners caused by metal-arsenic ores: nickel arsenide and cobalt arsenide. Cobalt’s name is derived from the German ‘kobold’ meaning ‘goblin’ – a close relative of the creature from which nickel’s name was derived.

In cobalt’s case, miners mistakenly thought the ore contained silver, and called the ore kobold in frustration at the wicked goblins who they believed were preventing them getting silver from the ore.

In the early twentieth century, Ludwig Mond patented a process using nickel carbonyl to purify nickel. This process is still used today.

Interesting Facts about Nickel

  • Nickel is ferromagnetic at room temperature, just like its close periodic table neighbors iron and cobalt.

  • Nickel is 100 times more concentrated below Earth’s crust than in it. Nickel is believed to be the second most abundant element in the earth’s core, with iron most abundant by a large margin.

  • Nickel is the main metal in Mu-metal, which has the fascinating property of magnetic shielding. Magnets will normally attract metals such as iron. If you place Mu-metal between magnet and metal, the attraction disappears. This is because very little magnetic field is transmitted through Mu-metal. Mu-metal is approximately 80% nickel, 20% iron with a little molybdenum. (5)

  • The strange properties of nickel’s alloys don’t end with Mu-metal. Nitinol is a nickel alloy, discovered in the 1960s, that remembers its previous shape. Heat this 1:1 nickel-titanium alloy to about 500 oC, and bend it into whatever shape you like; you could bend a wire to make your name. Then cool it and bend the wire into a spring. Heat the wire again and, remarkably, the spring disappears, and the first shape – in this case your name – returns.

  • Nickel is corrosion resistant – it is one of the elements used in stainless steel. The presence of nickel in meteorite metal means it would have stayed bright and shiny in the hands of ancient people for much longer than if nickel had been absent.

  • Until the invention of rare-earth magnets, such as neodymium-iron-boron, the strongest permanent magnets – Alnico magnets – were made from a nickel alloy: mainly aluminum, nickel, cobalt and iron. Unusually, Alnico magnets retain their magnetism even when heated until they glow red hot.

  • Supernova 2007bi was observed in 2007. One of the products of this supernova was nickel-56, synthesized during the explosion. Nickel of mass three times greater than our entire sun was made. Nickel-56 is radioactive, decaying to cobalt-56, which itself decays to stable iron-56.

Appearance and Characteristics

Harmful effects:

Nickel and its compounds are considered to be carcinogenic. Approximately 10 to 20 percent of people are sensitive to nickel. Repeated contact with it leads to skin complaints (dermatitis). Such people should avoid contact with nickel, which can be found in jewelry.

Workers who have breathed very large amounts of nickel compounds have developed chronic bronchitis and lung and nasal cancers.

Nickel carbonyl is a very toxic gas.


Nickel is a hard, silvery-white metal, which is malleable and ductile.

The metal can take on a high polish and it resists tarnishing in air.

Nickel is ferromagnetic and is a fair conductor of heat and electricity.
Most nickel compounds are blue or green.

Uses of Nickel

The majority of nickel is used in corrosion-resistant alloys, such as stainless steel.

Tubing made from a copper-nickel alloy is used in desalination plants. This alloy is naturally resistant to corrosion by seawater and to biofouling.

Many coins contain nickel.

Nickel steel is used for burglar-proof vaults and armor plate.

Nickel is also used in batteries – for example NiCd (nickel-cadmium) and Ni-MH (nickel-metal hydride) rechargeable batteries – and in magnets.

Abundance and Isotopes

Abundance earth’s crust: 84 parts per million by weight, 30 parts per million by moles

Abundance solar system: 80 parts per million by weight, 2 parts per million by moles

Data Zone

Classification:Nickel is a transition metal
Atomic weight:58.693
Melting point:1455 oC, 1728 K
Boiling point:2990 oC, 3263 K
Neutrons in most abundant isotope:30
Electron shells:2,8,16,2
Electron configuration:[Ar] 3d8 4s2
Density @ 20oC:8.91 g/cm3
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Re: Nickel Chemistry

Post by Algerien1970 on Sat 13 Jun - 23:31

Properties of

NiMelting point1453° C
Boiling point2732° C
Density8.9 g/cm³
AppearanceNickel is silver in color.
Other physical propertiesNickel is magnetic, hard,malleable, and ductile. Itconducts electricity.
Chemical propertiesNickel is not very reactive. It reacts very slowly with the oxygen in air at room temperature, and it reacts very slowly with hydrochloric acid.
CompoundsCompounds of nickel are green in color.
UsesNickel is used in coins (because it remains shiny) and in strong magnets (as an alloy with other metals). Nickel compounds are used to color glass green.

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