What is Nickel? Origin / Meaning of the name Nickel
The name Nickel derives from an abbreviation of the German word 'kupfernickel' meaning "Devil's copper". In German 'Kupfer' means copper and 'Nickel' means devil. The German word 'Nickel' was a form of the name Nicholas, a term commonly associated with the devil which is why "Old Nick" is a familiar name for Satan. The metal was originally named by German miners who believed that the devil had changed or contaminated this strange ore, turning it into a less valuable and harder to work metal than valuable copper. The name was given by the chemist Axel von Cronstedt (1722-1765) who discovered the element.
What is Nickel? Periodic Table Group and Classification of the Nickel Element
Elements can be classified based on their physical states (States of Matter) e.g. gas, solid or liquid. This element is a solid. Nickel is classified as a "Transition Metal" which are located in Groups 3 - 12 of the Periodic Table. Elements classified as Transition Metals are generally described as ductile, malleable, and able to conduct electricity and heat. For additional facts and information refer to Nickel Properties. Nearly 75% of all the elements in the Periodic Table are classified as metals which are detailed in the List of Metals.
Facts about the History and the Discovery of the Nickel Element
The use of nickel dates back as far as 3500 BC when it was used for coins and weapons. Nickel was discovered by Baron Axel Frederik Cronstedt in 1751. Axel von Cronstedt was a mining expert with the Bureau of Mines and attempted to extract copper from what he thought was a copper ore, but produced a silvery-white metal, instead of copper. He named the new metal nickel meaning "Devil's copper". Cronstedt also discovered the mineral tungsten, meaning heavy stone in Swedish.
Axel von Cronstedt (1722-1765)
What is Nickel? Occurrence of the Nickel Element
Nickel occurs sparingly in nature, usually combined with Arsenic or with arsenic and sulphur. Nickel has been found in the free state in meteorites. Obtained from pentlandite
What is Nickel? Use of Nickel
Nickel is largely used as an alloy with other metals. Alloyed with copper it forms coin metal from which five-cent pieces are made, with copper and Zinc it forms German silver, and when added to steel in small quantities nickel steel is formed which is much superior to common steel for certain purposes. When deposited by electrolysis upon the surface of other metals such as iron, it forms a covering which will take a high polish and protects the metal from rust, nickel not being acted upon by moist air. Salts of nickel are usually green.
Abundances of the element in different environments
% in Universe 0.006%
% in Sun 0.008%
% in Meteorites 1.3%
% in Earth's Crust 0.0089%
% in Oceans 2×10-7%
% in Humans 0.00001%
Associated Uses of Nickel
Coinage in the United States and Canada