The Wonders of the Chemical Element Nickel
By Clifford Woods
Definition and Word Origin: Nickel (Ni) is a chemical element which is said to be hard, silvery-white, malleable, and ductile metallic. It is allied to iron and cobalt. Ni belongs to the group of transition metals and has an atomic number 28. This metal is considered to have good resistance to corrosion.
The name of the element came from the German word Kupfernickel meaning "false copper." It was said to have been discovered in the mid-18th century. The element has five (5) stable isotopes. Bulk Ni is said to be non-magnetic above 355 degrees Celsius or 671 degrees Fahrenheit. Aside from iron, gadolinium, and cobalt, Ni is also one of the four elements that is magnetic at or near room temperature.
Uses and Applications: Nickel (Ni) is widely used around the world in various applications and for a broad range of products. It is mostly used for making steels, with the industry accounting for 46% of Ni usage. Non-ferrous (any metal, including alloys, that does not contain iron in appreciable amounts) alloys and super alloys come in close second, taking 34% share of Ni's worldwide use.
It is also used in electroplating as well as for other commercial products like coins, rechargeable batteries, electric guitar strings, special alloys, and magnets.
It is also used as a substitute for ornamental silver because of its great resistance to corrosion. Its alloy and the Ni itself are often used a catalysts for hydrogenation reaction. It changes in length which is caused by the presence of a magnetic field; Ni is a magnetostrictive (change in dimensions exhibited by ferromagnetic materials when subjected to a magnetic field) material by nature.
The change in length is "negative" which causes the element to contract on the order of 50 ppm. It is also used as a binder for cemented tungsten carbide.
Ni and the Organisms' Health: Ni plays significant roles among living things, particularly among plants and microorganisms. Ni is a mineral found in a variety of food. For instance, this element can be gotten by eating peas, nuts, chocolates, beans, grains and soybeans. It is a common trace element with multiple vitamins which should only be taken in small amounts.
The purpose or benefit of this element in the body is not all that clear, but it is said to be essential in some chemical processes in the body's major systems.
Ni is believed to be essential in the improvement of the body's iron absorption. It is also believed to prevent anemia and improve bone health. On the other hand, no adverse effects have been scientifically proven to be caused by Ni deficiency.
Animal studies, however, have shown that Ni deficiency can occur. One can take a right amount of Ni with the use of supplements to prevent Ni deficiency.
Ni is safe for adults when taken up to 1 milligram per day. Increasing the dosage might cause side effects and may lead to health problems. High dosage intake of Ni is poisonous and doctors are not advising people to take such dosages.
For pregnant and breastfeeding-women, intake of this element is safe only at doses of lower than 1 milligram a day. It is not yet sure if higher intake is safe for pregnant women but it is still inadvisable.
It is also safe for children to take Ni supplements, but with the proper precautions and the right dosing. The current information is that children from 1 to 3 years old should take only 0.2 milligram of Ni per day; 0.3 mg/day for children from 4 to 8 years old; and 0.6 mg/day from 9 to 13 years old. Taking higher dosage is unsafe.
However, people who are suffering from kidney disease should avoid this element. It may cause harm to their kidney and might worsen kidney failure. The same is true for those who have a history of skin rashes or allergies. They should avoid foods and supplements with Ni.
They must also stay away from coins, steels, jewelries and surgical and dental appliances containing Ni. This element might just worsen their allergy condition. Ni sulfide fumes and dust are believed to cause cancer to people exposed to them.
History and Properties: Nickel (Ni) atom has two electron configurations. One is 3d8, 4s2 and the other is 3d9, 4s1. Chemists find difficulties in choosing which of these two should be considered as Ni's electron configuration.
However, chemistry textbooks and manuals use 4s2, 3d8 (similar to 3d8, 4s2) as the element's electron configuration. This is because this configuration agrees with the Madelung energy ordering rule (a rule which describes electron configuration and the filling of atomic orbitals) Also known as the Klechkowski rule.
It was during the medieval age in Germany when a red mineral was found in the Ore Mountains. The mineral looked similar to copper ore. The miners, however, did not find copper in their discovery. They blamed their fate to a mischievous spirit in the German mythology and thought that he took the copper from the ore, giving them nothing to extract.
However, in 1750s, Baron Axel Fedrik Cronstedt was eager to extract copper from the Kupfernickel. Instead, he was just able to produce a white metal which he later he named after the mythical spirit.
Ni has since been considered as a rare element. Norway has been the first large manufacturer of Ni metal since 1848. Dutch coins were made of pure Ni since mid-19th century. Until 2000, Canada used almost a hundred percent of Ni in its high-valued coins.
Nowadays, coins that are still made of Ni metal are as follows: one- and two-Euro coins; 20p, 50p, �1 and �2 U.K. coins; and 5�, 10�, 25�, and 50� U.S. coins.
Among the world's largest producers of Ni are:
Ni's Chemical Properties:
Name of the Element: Nickel
Atomic Number: Twenty-eight (28)
Color or Appearance: Silvery-white
Crystal Structure: Cubic
Atomic Mass: 58.69 g/cm3
Number of Neutrons: Thirty-one (31)
Number of Protons and Electrons: Twenty-eight (28)
Density at 293 Kelvin: 8.902 g/cm3
Classification: Transition Metal
Number of Energy Levels: Four (4)
First energy level = Two (2)
Second energy level = Eight (8)
Third energy level = Sixteen (16)
Fourth energy level = Two (2)
[The information contained in this article is believed to be reliable. I have taken every precaution to verify its accuracy; I am not a medical professional and make no warranties, representations or guarantees of any kind as to its accuracy. Medical knowledge is in a constant state of change, and what I have written here may be out of date by the time you read it. The information that I have provided here is for informational purposes only and not for use in diagnosing any condition that you may or may not have. Always consult with you doctor before treating yourself.]