Nickel is a naturally occurring, lustrous, silvery-white metallic element. It is the fifth most common element on earth and occurs extensively in the earth's crust. However, most of the nickel is inaccessible in the core of the earth.
Nickel metal’s key characteristics are:
- High melting point, 1453 ºC
- Resists corrosion and oxidation
- Very ductile
- Alloys readily
- Magnetic at room temperature
- Can be deposited by electroplating
- Has catalytic properties
||8.90 g/cm3 at 25 ºC
Reflecting these characteristics, nickel is widely used in over 300,000 products for consumer, industrial, military, transport, aerospace, marine and architectural applications. The biggest use is in alloying - particularly with chromium and other metals to produce stainless and heat-resisting steels. These are used for pots and pans, kitchen sinks etc, as well in buildings, food processing equipment, medical equipment and chemical plants.
About 65% of the nickel which is produced is used to manufacture stainless steels. Another 20% is used in other steel and non-ferrous alloys - often for highly specialized industrial, aerospace and military applications. About 9% is used in plating and 6% in other uses, including coins, electronics, and in batteries for portable equipment and hybrid cars. In many of these applications there is no substitute for nickel without reducing performance or increasing cost.
Nickel is essential for healthy plant life. As a result, it is found naturally in most vegetables, fruits and nuts, and in the food products derived from them, for example – chocolate and wine.