Monday, March 25, 2013

10 Things You Need To Know About The Chemical Element Nickel

There's probably a great deal more that you don't yet know about nickel, but we're going to enlighten you, so keep reading...

1. Nickel is represented on the periodic table by the symbol Ni and an atomic number of 28. The metal is silvery-white, but is lustrous and has somewhat of a golden tinge.

2. Nickel is not credited to anyone in terms of discovery because it has been in use since ancient times. However, the story behind this element's name is an interesting one. In Germany in medieval times, a mineral of red coloring was discovered in the Ore Mountains. It looked similar to copper ore, so the miners attempted to extract copper from it. When they failed, they decided that it must have been Nickel, a mischievous little sprite from German mythology.

3. Since the middle of the 19th century, this element has been used in coins.

4. As of 2005, the world's largest nickel producer was Russia, producing nearly a fifth of the world's share. However, Russia was followed closely by Australia, Canada and Indonesia. Turkey also had a large nickel deposit, but it has since been exploited. The U.S. also had a commercial nickel mine in Oregon, but in 1987, the mine was closed. Other areas with large deposits are Cuba, New Caledonia and France.

5. Nickel is found most frequently in pentlandite, millerite, galena and nickeline. Most nickel comes from two specific types of deposits: laterites and magmatic sulfide deposits.

6. The second largest supplier of nickel is Canada, more specifically, Ontario's Sudbury region. This area producing nearly 30% of the nickel supply worldwide. The actual mine is located in a basin (Sudbury Basin). It is believed that a meteorite impact created the basin during Earth's early years.

7. Geophysical evidence indicates that the majority of Earth's nickel is concentrated in or near the Earth's core.

8. Nickel once traded at $52,300 per ton in 2007, but it fell drastically over the next two years and, in 2009, nickel was worth a mere $10,880 per ton.

9. Nickel has a wide array of applications, including: steels, alloys, superalloys, cast irons and electric resistant alloys. It is used to make magnets, coins, guitar strings, rechargeable batteries, glass tint and plating.

10. Nickel actually also plays an important biological role in plants and microorganisms. Urease, an assistant to hydrolysis, contains nickel. Nickel is considered somewhat toxic and its Nickel sulfide dust and fumes are considered carcinogenic. In addition, nickel can cause contact allergies, commonly caused by its presence in earrings. This contact allergy often results in red, itchy skin.

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