Nickel applications – Nickel (Ni)

Discovery and Occurrence

  • Discovered in 1751 in Stockholm, Sweden by A.F. Cronstedt from the ore kupfernickel (niccolite).
  • Mainly occurs in arsenic and sulfide ores.
  • Extracted by roasting to NiO and then reducing with carbon.
  • Abundance of 80 ppm in the Earth’s crust.


  • Silver-white metal.
  • Hard, malleable, and ductile.
  • Ferromagnetic up to 360 °C.
  • Fair electrical conductivity (25% that of copper) and heat conductivity.
  • Belongs to the iron-cobalt group of metals.
  • Highly resistant to atmospheric corrosion.
  • Resists most acids but is attacked by oxidizing acids like nitric acid.


  • Natural nickel is a mixture of five stable isotopes.
  • Nine unstable isotopes are known.


  • Nickel carbonyl is highly toxic, and exposure should be limited.
  • Fumes and dust of nickel sulfide are recognized as having carcinogenic potential.


  1. Alloys
    • Principal use as an alloying element in stainless steels, alloy steels, non-ferrous metals, and corrosion-resistant alloys (e.g., Invar, Monel, Inconel, Nichrome, Permalloy, Hastelloys).
  2. Coatings
    • Nickel coatings can be deposited electrolytically by electroplating or chemically by electroless deposition.
  3. Desalination
    • Tubing for desalination plants.
  4. Coinage
    • Used in coinage.
  5. Armour and Vault Metals
    • Added to armour plate and burglarproof vault metals.
  6. Glass
    • Used in glass to produce a green color.
  7. Catalyst
    • Used as a catalyst for hydrogenating vegetable oils.
  8. Ceramics
    • Used in ceramic manufacturing.
  9. Magnets
    • Used in Alnico magnets.
  10. Batteries
    • Used in storage batteries, such as nickel-cadmium and nickel-metal hydride batteries, used in mobile phones and personal stereo equipment.
  11. High Purity Applications
    • High-purity nickels are used in electronic and aerospace applications, chemical and food processing equipment, anodes and cathodes, caustics evaporators, and heat shields.
  12. Aerospace
    • Used in aircraft turbines components.
  13. Beryllium Nickel
    • Used for springs, switches, bellows, diaphragms, and small valves.
  14. Temperature Measurement
    • Used in thermometer bulbs and resistance thermometers.
  15. Seals
    • Used in glass-to-metal and ceramic-to-metal seals.
  16. Industrial Equipment
    • Used in marine, petroleum, and chemical processing equipment (e.g., Monels).
  17. Incineration
    • Used in incineration systems.
  18. Superalloys
    • Used in controlled expansion nickel superalloys.
  19. Paramagnetic Alloys and Shape Memory Alloys
    • Used in various applications such as fire-sprinkler actuators, tap water anti-scalding devices, green house window hinges, flow regulators, spacecraft solar-panel releases, toys, and underwire brassieres.

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