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The Element Nickel

[Click for Isotope Data]





Atomic Number: 28

Atomic Weight: 58.6934

Melting Point: 1728 K (1455°C or 2651°F)

Boiling Point: 3186 K (2913°C or 5275°F)

Density: 8.912 grams per cubic centimeter

Phase at Room Temperature: Solid

Element Classification: Metal

Period Number: 4    Group Number: 10    Group Name: none

What's in a name? From the German word Nickel, which means "Old Nick," a name for the devil. Also from the German word for the mineral niccolite, kupfernickel, which means "Old Nick's copper."

Say what? Nickel is pronounced as NIK-'l.

History and Uses:

Nickel was discovered by the Swedish chemist Axel Fredrik Cronstedt in the mineral niccolite (NiAs) in 1751. Today, most nickel is obtained from the mineral pentlandite (NiS·2FeS). Most of the world's supply of nickel is mined in the Sudbury region of Ontario, Canada. It is believed that this large deposit of nickel ore is a result of an ancient meteor impact.

Nickel is a hard, corrosion resistant metal. It can be electroplated onto other metals to form a protective coating. Finely divided nickel is used as a catalyst for the hydrogenation of vegetable oils. Adding nickel to glass gives it a green color. A single kilogram of nickel can be drawn into 300 kilometers of wire. Nickel is also used to manufacture some types of coins and batteries.

Nickel is alloyed with other metals to improve their strength and resistance to corrosion. Nickel is alloyed with steel to make armor plate, vaults and machine parts. It is alloyed with copper to make pipes that are used in desalination plants. Very powerful permanent magnets, known as Alnico magnets, can be made from an alloy of aluminum, nickel, cobalt and iron.

Estimated Crustal Abundance: 8.4×101 milligrams per kilogram

Estimated Oceanic Abundance: 5.6×10-4 milligrams per liter

Number of Stable Isotopes: 5   (View all isotope data)

Ionization Energy: 7.640 eV

Oxidation States: +3, +2

Electron Shell Configuration:


2s2   2p6

3s2   3p6   3d8