Nickel is a silvery-white metallic element. Occurring extensively on earth, especially in the earth’s crust, nickel is the fifth most common element. But while nickel is in great supply, most of it is inaccessible because it is located below the earth’s core.
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Nickel’s strength, ductility, and resistance to corrosion and heat make it valuable for a variety of uses. Nickel is extensively used in wires, coins, and military equipment. It is also a good conductor of electricity and heat, making it one of the few elements that are ferromagnetic at room temperature.
The key characteristics of nickel include the following:
- High melting point
- Resistant to corrosion and oxidation
- Can be used as part of an alloy
- Magnetic at room temperature
- Can be deposited through electroplating
- Possesses catalytic properties
Nickel is in high demand. It is used extensively in more than 300,000 consumer, industrial, military, aerospace, marine, and architectural applications. It can be found in almost all types of metal products.
Nickel is widely used in alloys to produce different types of stainless steel. About 65% of the world’s nickel goes to the production of stainless steel while another 20% goes to the production of other non-ferrous alloys. About 9% of nickel is used in the production of coins, batteries, and electronics. In many industrial applications, substituting nickel with another metal will lead to decreased quality and higher costs.
Nickel is also important in plant life. It occurs in fruits, vegetables, and nuts and in food items derived from those plant products. It supports plant and human health but can become toxic in excessive quantities.
Nickel is an important element in the metal plating process. Those who want to try their hand at metal coating should consider using nickel-plating for its versatility, durability, longevity and more.