Nickel is a chemical element represented by the symbol Ni in the periodic table, its atomic number is 28 and its mass is 58.71. Its density is 8.90 times that of water at 20 degrees Celsius. It is a ductile, malleable, silvery, soft and hard metal.
It is quite abundant in the earth’s crust, with an It occurs in very small amounts in the environment, amounting to approximately 0.008%. It was discovered by Swedish chemist Alex Constedt in 1761.
It is black in color when finely divided and, despite occurring in small amounts in the environment, nickel has many applications, among which it is used as an ingredient in steel and in other metals, in metallic jewelry products. It is also found It is used in corrosion resistant alloys such as stainless steel and is also a mineral used in many countries as a substitute for silver in coins.
Nickel has excellent magnetic properties, in that when incorporated into various alloys it is highly resistant to heat, deterioration and corrosion. It is generally associated with iron for the manufacture of kitchen utensils, watches, car headlights. This element is found in certain types of meteorites and it is believed that in the Earth’s core it can be found in abundant amounts.
The Electron configuration of nickel is [Ar] 3d⁸ 4s². It belongs to group 10 of the periodic table of the chemical elements and is found in period 4 of block d.
Uses of Nickel
At least 65% of this element is used to make stainless steel and 12% is used for superalloys.
The remaining 23% is used in the manufacture of rechargeable batteries and Ni-Cd batteries, other alloys, to coat and protect metals and melt them, such as aluminum, steel and iron, to strike coins, among other uses. It is also often useful for manufacturing various Electron components.
Nickel is found in the earth’s core with iridium and iron, forming heavy and hard alloys between the three, and it is also found in meteorites with iron as the metal, forming the alloys taenite and kamacite.
To obtain nickel through sulphides, the process that is carried out in a traditional way is by pyrometallurgical methods by obtaining nickel matte.
Health effects of nickel
Humans are exposed to nickel through eating, smoking, drinking water and breathing.
- There are foods that naturally contain small amounts of it. In the case of fats and chocolate, they contain large amounts of nickel. It increases when people consume large amounts of vegetables originating from contaminated soil.
- People who smoke cigarettes are exposed to nickel through their lungs. This element can also be found in detergents.
- Nickel is essential in small quantities, however, when a person consumes it or is excessively exposed to it, it is very dangerous for health.
- Taking this mineral in large amounts can cause the development of cancers of the nose, larynx, prostate and lungs, as well as dizziness after exposure to nickel gas, shortness of breath, birth defects, watery bronchitis, skin rashes if you are allergic to it. metal and is used in jewelry, heart disorders, among others.
Environmental effects of nickel
In the air, nickel is released by burning garbage and by power plants. This is deposited on the ground or after its reaction with the water droplets when it rains. In addition, in acidic soils, this element tends to bind, acquire more mobility and reach groundwater. It usually takes a long time to clear the air.
High concentrations of nickel in sandy soils harm plants. The growth of algae in surface waters can also be affected if high concentrations of this element are recorded there. Some microorganisms also have a decrease in their development, so they often develop resistance to it.
In animals, nickel is a fundamental element, in small quantities, but it can pose a danger if the necessary quantity is exceeded, causing cancers in their body, mainly in those who live near refineries. As far as is known to date, nickel does not accumulate in animals or plants.