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Nickel is a chemical element which has the atomic number 28 and with the chemical symbol
Ni. It is a silvery-white lustrous metal with a slight golden tinge. Nickel belongs to the
transition metals and is hard and ductile. Pure nickel shows a significant chemical activity,
though larger pieces of the metal are slow to react with air at ambient conditions due to the
formation of a protective oxide surface. However, nickel is reactive with oxygen to the extent
that native nickel is rare on Earth's surface, and is mostly confined to the interiors of larger
nickel iron meteorites, which were protected from oxidation in space. Such native nickel is
always found on Earth alloyed with iron, in keeping with the element's origin as a major end-
product of the nucleosynthesis process, along with iron, in supernovas. An iron-nickel alloy is
thought to compose the Earth's core.

The bulk of the nickel mined on Earth comes from two types of ore deposits. The first type
are laterites where the principal ore minerals are nickeliferous limonite: (Fe, Ni)O(OH) and
garnierite (a hydrous nickel silicate): (Ni, Mg)3Si2O5(OH)4. The second are magmatic sulfide
deposits where the principal ore mineral is pentlandite: (Ni, Fe)9S8.

Nickel chunk Pure nickel made by Electrolytically refined

electrolysis process nickel nodule

Discovery of Nickel

Study showed that nickel has been used since ancient times. Pure nickel was extracted by
Axel Cronstedt from the ore niccolite (nickel arsenide, NiAs) in 1751. Chemist Jermais
Richter in 1804 isolated much purer nickel, in order to study its properties. In the early
twentieth century, Ludwig Mond patented a process using nickel carbonyl to separate and
purify pure nickel from any other metal. This process is still used today. Switzerland was the
first country to use coins of pure nickel in 1881. The element name comes from comes from
the German word 'kupfernickel' meaning Devil's copper.

Nickel in the environment

Most nickel on Earth is inaccessible because it is locked away in the planet's iron-nickel
molten core, which is 10 % nickel. The total amount of nickel dissolved in the sea has been
calculated to be around 8 billion tons. Organic matter has a strong ability to absorb the metal
which is why coal and oil contain considerable amounts. The nickel content in soil can be as
low as 0.2 ppm or as high as 450 ppm in some clay and loamy soils. The average is around 20
ppm. Nickel occurs in some beans where it is an essential component of some enzymes.
Another relatively rich source of nickel is tea which has 7.6 mg/kg of dried leaves.

Nickel occurs combined with sulphur in millerite, with arsenic in the mineral niccolite, and
with arsenic and sulphur in nickel glance. Most ores from which nickel is extracted are iron-
nickel sulphides, such as pentlandite. The metal is mined in Russia, Australia, New Caledonia,
Cuba, Canada and South Africa. Annual production exceeds 500.000 tons and easily
workable reserves will last at least 150 years.

Extraction of Nickel

In 1899 Ludwig Mond developed a process for extracting and purifying nickel. The so-called
"Mond Process" involves the conversion of nickel oxides to pure nickel metal. The oxide is
obtained from nickel ores by a series of treatments including concentration, roasting and
smelting of the minerals.

In the first step of the process, nickel oxide is reacted with water gas, a mixture of H2 and CO,
at atmospheric pressure and a temperature of 50 °C. The oxide is thus reduced to impure
nickel. Reaction of this impure material with residual carbon monoxide gives the toxic and
volatile compound, nickel tetracarbonyl, Ni(CO)4. This compound decomposes on heating to
about 230 °C to give pure nickel metal and CO, which can then be recycled.

The actual temperatures and pressures used in this process may very slightly from one
processing plant to the next. However the basic process as outlined is common to all.

The process can be summarised as follows:

50°C 230°C
Ni + 4CO → Ni(CO)4 → Ni + 4CO.
(impure) (pure)

Besides Mond Process, most sulfide ores have traditionally been processed using
pyrometallurgical techniques to produce a matte for further refining. Recent advances in
hydrometallurgy have resulted in significant nickel purification using these processes. Most
sulfide deposits have traditionally been processed by concentration through a froth flotation
process followed by pyrometallurgical extraction. In hydrometallurgical processes, nickel
sulfide ores undergo flotation (differential flotation if Ni/Fe ratio is too low) and then smelted.
After producing the nickel matte, further processing is done via the Sherritt-Gordon process.
First, copper is removed by adding hydrogen sulfide, leaving a concentrate of only cobalt and
nickel. Then, solvent extraction is used to separate the cobalt and nickel, with the final nickel
concentration greater than 99%.

Highly purified nickel spheres made in the Mond process

Electroplating with nickel

Nickel is commonly used in electroplating. Electroplating is the process by which a thin layer
of one metal is laid down on top of a second metal. Here is how electroplating is done.

First, the nickel compound to be laid down is dissolved in water. The solution may be nickel
chloride (NiCl2 ), nickel nitrate (Ni(NO 3 ) 2 ), or some other nickel compound.

Second, a sheet of the metal to be electroplated is placed into the solution. Suppose the metal
is steel. The steel sheet is suspended in the nickel chloride, nickel nitrate, or other nickel

Third, an electric current is passed through the solution. The current causes nickel to come
out of the solution. The nickel is then deposited on the surface of the steel. The longer the
current runs, the more nickel is laid down. The thickness of the nickel layer can be controlled
by the time the electric current runs through the solution.

Electroplating is used to make metal products with very specific qualities. Steel is strong but
tends to corrode easily. Nickel does not corrode as fast as steel. A thin layer of nickel on top
of steel protects the steel from corrosion.

Isotopes of nickel
Naturally occurring nickel is composed of 5 stable isotopes; 58Ni, 60Ni, 61Ni, 62Ni and 64Ni
with 58Ni being the most abundant (68.077% natural abundance). 62Ni is the "most stable"
nuclide of all the existing elements, with binding energy greater than both 56Fe, often
incorrectly cited as "most stable", and 58Fe. 18 radioisotopes have been characterized with the
most stable being 59Ni with a half-life of 76,000 years, 63Ni with a half-life of 100.1 years,
and 56Ni with a half-life of 6.077 days. All of the remaining radioactive isotopes have half-
lives that are less than 60 hours and the majority of these have half-lives that are less than 30
seconds. This element also has 1 meta state.

Nickel-56 is produced by the silicon burning process and later set free in large quantities
during type is supernovae. Indeed, the shape of the light curve of these supernovae at
intermediate to late-times corresponds to the decay via electron capture of nickel-56 to
cobalt-56 and ultimately to iron-56. Nickel-59 is a long-lived cosmogenicradionuclide with a
half-life of 76,000 years. 59Ni has found many applications in isotope geology. 59Ni has been
used to date the terrestrial age of meteorites and to determine abundances of extraterrestrial
dust in ice and sediment. Nickel-60 is the daughter product of the extinct radionuclide 60Fe,
which decays with a half-life of 2.6 million years. Because 60Fe has such a long half-life, its
persistence in materials in the solar system at high enough concentrations may have
generated observable variations in the isotopic composition of 60Ni. Therefore, the abundance
of 60Ni present in extraterrestrial material may provide insight into the origin of the solar
system and its early history. Nickel-62 has the highest binding energy per nucleon of any
isotope for any element (8.7946 Mev/nucleon). Isotopes heavier than 62Ni cannot be formed
by nuclear fusion without losing energy. Nickel-48, discovered in 1999, is the most proton-
rich heavy element isotope known. With 28 protons and 20 neutrons 48Ni is "double magic"
(like 208Pb) and therefore unusually stable.

The isotopes of nickel range in atomic weight from 48 u (48Ni) to 78 u (78Ni). Nickel-78's
half-life was recently measured to be 110 milliseconds and is believed to be an important
isotope involved in supernova nucleosynthesis of elements heavier than iron.

Nickel 62 is the most stable isotope of nickel


Naturally occurring isotopes

Isotopes Atomic mass Natural abundance Nuclear spin Magnetic moment
(ma/u) (atom %) (I) (μ/μN)
Ni 57.9353462 (16) 68.0769 (89) 0

Ni59.9307884 (16) 26.2231 (77) 0

61 3
Ni 60.9310579 (16) 1.1399 (6) /2 -0.75002

Ni 61.9283461 (16) 3.6345 (17) 0
Ni 63.9279679 (17) 0.9256 (9) 0

This table shows information about naturally occurring isotopes, their atomic masses, their
natural abundances, their nuclear spins, and their magnetic moments.

Radioisotope data
Isotopes Mass Half-life de of decay Nuclear spin Nuclear magnetic moment
Ni 55.94214 6.08 d EC to 56Co 0

Ni 56.939800 35.6 h EC to 57Co 3
/2 0.88
Ni 58.934351 76000 y EC to 59Co 3
Ni 62.929673 100 y β- to 63Cu 1

Ni 64.930088 2.517 h β- to 65Cu 5
/2 0.69

Ni 65.92912 54.6 h β- to 66Cu 0

This table gives information about some radioisotopes of nickel, their masses, their half-lives,
their modes of decay, their nuclear spins, and their nuclear magnetic moments

Effects of nickel on the environment

Nickel is released into the air by power plants and trash incinerators. It will than settle to the
ground or fall down after reactions with raindrops. It usually takes a long time for nickel to be
removed from air. Nickel can also end up in surface water when it is a part of wastewater

The larger part of all nickel compounds that are released to the environment will adsorb to
sediment or soil particles and become immobile as a result. In acidic ground however, nickel
is bound to become more mobile and it will often rinse out to the groundwater.

There is not much information available on the effects of nickel upon organisms other than
humans. We do know that high nickel concentrations on sandy soils can clearly damage
plants and high nickel concentrations in surface waters can diminish the growth rates of algae.
Microorganisms can also suffer from growth decline due to the presence of nickel, but they
usually develop resistance to nickel after a while.

For animals nickel is an essential foodstuff in small amounts. But nickel is not only favorable
as an essential element; it can also be dangerous when the maximum tolerable amounts are
exceeded. This can cause various kinds of cancer on different sites within the bodies of
animals, mainly of those that live near refineries.

Nickel is not known to accumulate in plants or animals. As a result nickel will not bio
magnify up the food chain.

Health effects of nickel

Nickel is a compound that occurs in the environment only at very low levels. Humans use
nickel for many different applications. The most common application of nickel is the use as
an ingredient of steal and other metal products. It can be found in common metal products
such as jewellery.

Foodstuffs naturally contain small amounts of nickel. Chocolate and fats are known to
contain severely high quantities. Nickel uptake will boost when people eat large quantities of
vegetables from polluted soils. Plants are known to accumulate nickel and as a result the
nickel uptake from vegetables will be eminent. Smokers have a higher nickel uptake through
their lungs. Finally, nickel can be found in detergents.

Humans may be exposed to nickel by breathing air, drinking water, eating food or smoking
cigarettes. Skin contact with nickel-contaminated soil or water may also result in nickel
exposure. In small quantities nickel is essential, but when the uptake is too high it can be a
danger to human health.

An uptake of too large quantities of nickel has the following consequences:

- Higher chances of development of lung cancer, nose cancer, larynx cancer and prostate
- Sickness and dizziness after exposure to nickel gas
- Lung embolism
- Respiratory failure
- Birth defects
- Asthma and chronic bronchitis
- Allergic reactions such as skin rashes, mainly from jewellery
- Heart disorders

Nickel fumes are respiratory irritants and may cause pneumonitis. Exposure to nickel and its
compounds may result in the development of a dermatitis known as “nickel itch” in sensitized
individuals. The first symptom is usually itching, which occurs up to 7 days before skin
eruption occurs. The primary skin eruption is erythematous, or follicular, which may be
followed by skin ulceration. Nickel sensitivity, once acquired, appears to persist indefinitely.

Carcinogenicity- Nickel and certain nickel compounds have been listed by the National
Toxicology Program (NTP) as being reasonably anticipated to be carcinogens. The
International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has listed nickel compounds within
group 1 (there is sufficient evidence for carcinogenicity in humans) and nickel within group
2B (agents which are possibly carcinogenic to humans). OSHA does not regulate nickel as a
carcinogen. Nickel is on the ACGIH Notice of Intended Changes as a Category A1,
confirmed human carcinogen.

Nickel is a silvery-white metal with a slight golden tinge that takes a high polish. It is a fairly
good conductor of heat and electricity. It is one of only four elements that are magnetic at or
near room temperature, the others being iron, cobalt and gadolinium. Its Curie temperature is
355 °C, meaning that bulk nickel is non-magnetic above this temperature. The unit cell of
nickel is a face-centered cube with the lattice parameter of 0.352 nm giving an atomic radius
of 0.124 nm. Nickel belongs to the transition metals and is hard and ductile. Most nickel
compounds are blue or green.

General properties

Name, symbol, number nickel, Ni, 28

Element category transition metal

Group, period, block 10, 4, d

Standard atomic weight 58.6934

Physical properties

Phase solid

Density (near r.t.) 8.908 g·cm−3

Liquid density at m.p. 7.81 g·cm−3

Melting point 1728 K, 1455 °C, 2651 °F

Boiling point 3186 K, 2913 °C, 5275 °F

Heat of fusion 17.48 kJ·mol−1

Heat of vaporization 377.5 kJ·mol−1

Molar heat capacity 26.07 J·mol−1·K−1


Atomic properties

Atomic radius 135pm

Covalent radius 124±4 pm

Van der Waals radius 163 pm

Ionic radius (2+ ion) 83pm

Ionic radius (3+ ion) 72 pm


Electrical resistivity (20 °C) 69.3 nΩ·m

Thermal conductivity 90.9 W·m−1·K−1

Thermal expansion (25 °C) 13.4 µm·m−1·K−1

Note: 1 pm = 1 x 10-12 metre (meter)



 Crystal Structure: face-centered cubic

 Cell parameters:
o a: 352.4 pm
o b: 352.4 pm
o c: 352.4 pm
o α: 90.000°
o β: 90.000°
o γ: 90.000°




Specific heat capacity 0.44 J g-1 K-1

1st ionization energy 736.7 kJ mol-1

2nd ionization energy 1752.9 kJ mol-1

3rd ionization energy 3393.4 kJ mol-1

Heat of fusion 17.48 kJ mol-1

Heat of atomization 430 kJ mol-1

Heat of vaporization 377.5 kJ mol-1

Electron affinity 111.5 kJ mol-1

Oxidation & Electrons

Shell 2,8,16,2

Electron configuration [Ar] 3d8 4s2

Minimum oxidation number -1

Minimum common oxidation number 0

Maximum oxidation number 4

Maximum common oxidation number 2

Polarisability volume 6.8 Å3

Electronegativity (Pauling Scale) 1.91



Commercially pure nickel is actually about 99,5% Ni + Cobalt. This metal has good
mechanical properties and excellent resistance to many corrosive environments. The alloy
retains much of its strength at elevated temperatures and is tough and ductile at low
temperature. The alloy contains some carbon (up to 0,1%). The lower the carbon content the
lower the risk of work hardening and the higher the ductility.

Mechanical Properties

Young's modulus 200 GPa

Shear modulus 76 GPa

Bulk modulus 180 GPa

Poisson ratio 0.31

Mohs hardness 4.0

Vickers hardness 638 MPa

Brinell hardness 700 MPa

Hardness 171HV

Annealed Tensile Strength (20°C) 450MPa

Annealed 0.2% Proof Stress (20°C) 150MPa

Elongation (%) 47



1) Cu-Ni Phase Diagram

Introduction of Copper-Nickel Phase Diagram

Referring to figure above, temperature is plotted along the ordinate, and the abscissa
represents the composition of the alloy, in weight percent (bottom) and atom percent (top).
The composition ranges from 0 wt% Ni or 100 wt % Cu on the left horizontal extremity to
100 wt% Ni or 0 wt% Cu on the right. This diagram has three different phase regions, the
alpha region, the liquid region, and the alpha + liquid region. Each region is defined by the
phase or phases the exist over the range of temperatures and compositions delimited by the
phase boundary lines. Both points A and B are located in the alpha and the alpha + liquid
regions respectively. The phase boundaries are separated by two lines. The line separating the
liquid and the alpha + liquid regions is the liquidus line. The line separating the alpha and the
alpha + liquid regions is the solidus line. The intersection of these two lines signify the
melting temperatures of the two constituents individually. The Cu-Ni system is especially
noted for its complete liquid and solid solubility of its constituents, and is thusly identified as
an isomorphous system.

Determination of Phase Amount

The first step in the determination of phase composition is to locate the temperature-
composition point on the phase diagram. Different methods are used for single- and two-
phase regions. At point A, the alpha region is the only phase present; therefore, the
composition at 1100 degrees Centigrade is a weight percent of sixty for Ni and forty for Cu.
For two-phase region, the procedure is more complicated. It is necessary to draw a horizontal
line known as a tie line at the given temperature from the first phase boundary to the second
phase boundary which is depicted at point B. Next, at the intersection of each phase boundary
with the tie line, vertical lines are drawn straight down until they intersect the x-axis where
the composition of each constituent is identified. The composition of the liquid phase, CL, is
32 wt% Ni - 68 wt% Cu. Thusly, the alpha phase, CALPHA, has a composition of 43 wt% Ni -
57 wt% Cu. In other to determine the amount of each phase present, lever rule must be
applied. The percentage of one phase is calculated by dividing the length of the tie line from
the overall composition of the alloy to the phase boundary for the second phase by the length
of the total tie line, which is denoted by subtracting the compositions of the constituents, and
multiplying by one hundred. The percentage of phase two is calculated by using the same
procedure. For point B, a tie line is drawn at point B, which is specified at twelve hundred
fifty degrees Centigrade. The overall composition of the alloy is 35 wt% Ni, the composition
of the alpha phase is 43 wt% Ni, and the composition of the liquid phase is 32 wt% Ni. The
relative amount of each phase present in terms of mass fraction can be calculated by:

Development Of Microstructure In Isomorphous Alloys

At thirteen hundred degrees Centigrade with an alloy composition of 35 wt% Ni - 65 wt% Cu,
we will observe the cooling process slowly when it is cooled. At point a, the alloy is
completely liquid. This microstructure, which is represented by the circle inset in the figure.
The cooling process takes place, we reach the liquidus line. Here we reach a change in both
the microstructure and the composition of the alloy. Point b is located roughly around twelve
hundred seventy degrees Centigrade with its composition defined by the tie line. We can see
that the first solid (alpha) begins to form. As cooling continues from this point further, the
relative amounts of each of the phases will change. With continued cooling, the fraction alpha
phase will increase, as the fraction of the liquid will decrease. However, the overall alloy
composition does maintain consistent at 35 wt% Ni - 65 wt% Cu. At point c, the
microstructure displays an approximate equal amount of alpha and liquid. At point d, there is
a definite increase in alpha. Very little liquid can be viewed. Finally, point e is located after
crossing the solidus line. Here the remaining liquid solidifies. The outcome has a uniform 35
wt% Ni - 65 wt% Cu composition which is then a polycrystalline alpha-solid solution. If the
alloy is cooled beyond point e, there will be no microstructural or compositional changes.

2) Ni-Fe Phase Diagram

The figure above shows the Nickel-Iron binary phase diagram. The phases which can be seen
in the diagram are α, α+γ, δ and γ.

Above 912 °C, there is a region of complete solid solubility (the gamma field). Below 912 °C,
the alpha phase is stable in pure iron. The gamma phase is stabilized when the amount of
nickel is increased.

The transformation of the gamma phase into the alpha phase in the Fe-Ni binary system takes
place quite sluggishly, due to the slow diffusion of nickel. Thus, the phases that form when
Fe-Ni alloys are ingot-cast.

microstructure of nickel iron alloy Josephinite - highly magnetic nickel iron alloy

3) Ni-Cr Phase Diagram

According to the Nickel-Chromium binary phase diagram, the melting point of nickel and
chromium at the pressure of 101325 Pa is 1455°C and 1907°C, respectively. The Ni-Cr
binary system has an eutectic reaction at 1345°C, the eutectic composition being 51 wt. % Cr.
Two solid solutions — face-centered cubic (FCC) nickel and body-centered cubic (BCC)
chromium — are formed during the eutectic reaction.

Nichrome is an alloy of Partially melted nickel chromium alloy

70% nickel and 30% chromium with dendritic microstructure

4) Ni-Al Phase Diagram

The figure shows a Nickel-Aluminium binary phase diagram. It consists of various

phases such as Al, Al3Ni, Al3Ni2, AlNi, Al3Ni5, AlNi3 and Ni. Their respective
compositions are shown in the table below.

Phase Composition, wt% Ni

Al 0 to 24
Al3Ni 25
Al3Ni2 37 to 42
AlNi 45 to 59
Al3Ni5 64 to 67
AlNi3 73 to 76
Ni 90 to 100

Microstructure evolution of Ni-68.5at.%Al alloy when undergoes rapid solidification

Microstructure of Ni-68.5at.%Al alloy for as-cast sample (a,b) and sample quenched from
undercooling DT = 270 K (c,d).The microstructure of deeply undercooled and subsequently
quenched samples has some common features with as-cast one. Few areas of regular
dendrites represent branches directed in an angle close to 60° (c) . This morphology rather
points to primary solidification of the Ni2Al3 phase with hexagonal crystal structure than to
the cubic b-NiAl equilibrium phase.

The equilibrium primary solidifying b-NiAl phase is absent in the microstructures of both
quenched undercooled samples and in the as-cast master alloys.

5) Ni-B Phase Diagram

The figure shows a Nickel-Boron binary phase diagram. It consists of various phases
such as Ni, Ni3B, Ni2B, Ni4B3 (orthorhombic), Ni4B3 (monoclinic), NiB, NiB2, NiB12
and βB. Their respective compositions are shown in the table below.

Phase Composition, wt% B

Ni 0
Ni3B 6
Ni2B 8.4
Ni4B3 (orthorhombic) 11.5
Ni4B3 (monoclinic) 12.5
NiB 16
NiB2 26.9
NiB12 68.8
βB 100

6) Ni-Zn Phase Diagram

The figure shows a Nickel-Zinc binary phase diagram. It contains the phases of Ni, β,
β1, γ (might have orthorhombic structure), , and Zn. Their respective compositions
are shown in the table below.

Phase Composition, wt% Zn

Ni 0 to 41.9
β 50 to 60.9
β2 48 to 54.5
 72 to 86
 ~ 90
Zn 100

7) Ni-Ti Phase Diagram

The figure shows a Nickel-Titanium binary phase diagram. It contains the phases of βTi, αTi,
ω, Ti2Ni, TiNi’, TiNi, γ”TiNi3, TiNi3, γ’TiNi3 and Ni. Among the phases, ω, TiNi’, γ”TiNi3,
and γ’TiNi3 are metastable phases. Their respective compositions are shown in the table

Phase Composition, wt% Ni

βTi 0 to 12
αTi 0 to 0.3
ω ~0
Ti2Ni 38
TiNi’ ~ 54 to 58
TiNi 54.6 to 62
γ”TiNi3 ~ 77
TiNi3 79
γ’TiNi3 ~ 86 to 90
Ni 88.4 to 100

Microstructure of Nickel-Titanium Nickel Titanium Alloys

Shape Memory Alloy

8) Ni-Rh Phase Diagram

The figure shows a Nickel-Rhodium binary phase diagram. It only contains the phase of
Ni,Rh. The melting point of pure nickel is 1455°C and the melting point for pure rhodium is
1963°C. The composition of Ni, Rh is shown in the table below.

Phase Composition, wt% Rh

Ni,Rh 0 to 100

9) Ni-Mo Phase Diagram

The figure shows a Nickel-Molybdenum binary phase diagram. It contains the phases of Ni,
Ni4Mo, Ni3Mo, Ni2Mo, NiMo, Ni17Mo, and Mo. Among the phases, Ni2Mo, Ni3Mo, Ni4Mo,
and Ni17Mo5 are metastable phases. Their respective compositions are shown in the table

Phase Composition, wt% Mo

Ni 0 to 38 (at 1309 °C)
Ni4Mo 29
Ni3Mo 35.3
NiMo 63.9 to 65.7
Ni17Mo5 -
Mo 98.9 to 100 (at 1362 °C)

Microstructure of nickel molybdenum alloy

10) Ni-Pb Phase Diagram

The figure shows a Nickel-Lead binary phase diagram. It contains the phases of Ni,
NiPb and Pb. The NiPb is a metastable phase. Their respective compositions are
shown in the table below.

Phase Composition, wt% Pb

Ni 0 to 4.1
NiPb 77.9
Pb 99.9 to 100

11) Ni-W Phase Diagram

The figure shows a Nickel-Tungsten binary phase diagram. It contains the phases of Ni,
Ni4W, NiW, NiW2, and W. Their respective compositions are shown in the table below.

Phase Composition, wt% W

Ni 0 to 39.9
Ni4W ~ 44
NiW ~ 75.8
NiW2 86.3
W 99.9 to 100

12) Ni-C Phase Diagram

The figure shows a Nickel-Carbon binary phase diagram. It contains the phases of Ni,
C (graphite), and Ni3C which is a metastable phase. Their respective compositions are
shown in the table below.

Phase Composition, wt% C

Ni 0 to 0.6
C (graphite) ~ 100
Ni3C -

From the table above, the composition of C in Ni phase is from 0 wt% until 0.6 wt%.
But it can be extended to 1.6 wt % C at 1314 °C.

13) Ni-Nb Phase Diagram

The figure shows a Nickel-Niobium binary phase diagram. It contains the phases of Ni,
Ni8Nb, Ni3Nb, Ni6Nb7 and Nb. Their respective compositions are shown in the table below.

Phase Composition, wt% Nb

Ni 0 to 18.2
Ni8Nb 16.5
Ni3Nb 33.1 to 38.0
Ni6Nb7 60.9 to 65.5
Nb 97 to 100


1. Stress Relieving
A heat treatment used to remove or reduce stresses in work-hardened non-age-hardenable
alloys without producing a recrystalized grain structure. Stress-relieving temperatures for
nickel and nickel alloys from 425 to 870oC, depending on alloy composition and degree of
work hardening.

In stress relieving, careful regulation of time and temperature is required. These variables are
usually determined experimentally for each application.

Material Stress relievingoC

Nickel 200 480 to 705
Nickel 201 480 to 705
Monel 400 540 to 565
Inconel 600 760 to 870
Hastelloy B 1095 to 1185
Hastelloy C 1215

Stress relieving temperature for nickel alloys

2. Stress Equalizing
A low-temperature heat treatment used to balance stresses in cold worked material without an
appreciable decrease in the mechanical strength produced by cold working that results in
what is known as partial recovery. This recovery, which precedes any detectable microscopic
structural change, consists of a slight increases in hardness, tensile strength and proportional
limit, but no significant change in elongation or reduction of area.

The temperature for this process is depended on the composition of the alloy. But the
recommended temperature for commercial use is approximately 548 K. Long treatment time
at this temperature will bring no detrimental effect.

Stress equalizing is usually applied to coil spring, wire forms, and flat spring stampings. If
coil springs are to be given a cold pressing, after coiling, the stress equalization should be
carried out before the setting operation, which involves stressing the material beyond the
elastic limit. Any cold-working stresses set up by this operation are in a direction such that
the stresses will benefit, rather than harm, the material. If the stress is equalized after cold
pressing, part of the beneficial cold-working stress is removed.

3. Nickel Alloy Forging

As a national supplier of forged products, Philadelphia Forgings commits to providing
customers with the highest quality forgings. One of the materials that makes filling this
commitment possible is nickel alloy. Forgings in nickel alloy demonstrate controlled
thermal expansion properties as well as resistance to corrosion and heat deformation.

 Properties of Nickel Alloy Forgings

Most of the nickel alloys used for commercial forged products are selected for resistance
to both heat and corrosion. The higher chromium content helps nickel alloy forgings
retain their shapes during prolonged exposure to heat and also avoid damage by oxidation.
Nickel alloy forgings that are to be used in fresh or sea water applications are chosen
based on the ability of a particular grade of nickel alloy to resist corrosion. Nickel also
affects the thermal expansion properties of a metal, either by expansion predictability or
low thermal expansion control.

4. Age Hardening/Precipitation
Age-hardening practices for several nickel alloys are summarized in the table below. In
general nickel alloys are soft when quenched from temperatures ranging from 790 to 1220oC,
however, they may be hardened by holding at intermediate temperatures (425 to 870oC) and
then furnace or air-cooling. This will help in developing maximum strength by precipitation
of a dispersed phase throughout the matrix. Quenching is not a prerequisite to aging; the
alloys can be hardened from the hot worked and cold worked conditions, as well as from the
soft condition.

Alloy Solution treated

Temperature Cooling Age hardening
Monel K-500 980 oC WQ Heat to 595oC, hold 16h; furnace
cool to 540oC, hold 6h; furnace
cool to 480oC, hold 8h; air-cool
Inconel 718 980 oC AC Heat to 720oC, hold 8h; furnace
cool to 620oC, hold until furnace
time for entire age-hardening
cycle equals 18h; air cool
Inconel X-750 1150 oC AC Heat to 845oC, hold 24h; air cool;
reheat to 705oC, hold 20h; air
980 oC AC Heat to 730oC, hold 8h; furnace
cool to 620oC, hold until furnace
time for entire age-hardening
cycle equals 18h; air cool
Hastelloy X 1175 oC AC Heat to 760oC, hold 3h; air cool;
reheat to 595oC, hold 3h; air cool

5. Annealing
A heat treatment designed to produce a recrystallized grain structure and softening in work-
hardened alloys. And usually a complete softening as a result of recrystallization. Annealing
usually requires temperatures between 705 and 1205oC, depending on alloy composition and
degree of work hardening.

Nickel and nickel alloys that have been hardened by cold working operations, such as rolling,
deep drawing, spinning or severe bending, require softening before cold working can be
continued. The thermal treatment that will produce this condition is known as soft annealing.
Three soft-annealing methods in general commercial use – open annealing, closed
annealing and salt bath annealing.

1. Open Annealing
This method of soft-annealing is used most often. The material to be annealed is
heated at the selected temperature and protected from oxidation by the products of
combustion in a fuel-heated furnace, or by a reducing gas introduced into an electric
furnace. Temperature control is critical because the annealing period is short.

2. Closed annealing
It requires more time than open annealing because of the lower temperatures used.
Temperature control is less critical than in open annealing. In most instances, the
weight of the container exceeds that of the work; consequently, the amount of fuel
required, heating time and costs are greater than in open annealing.

3. Salt bath annealing

This method is used for special work with small parts. Inorganic salts, such as
chlorides and carbonates of sodium, potassium and barium, which are relatively stable
at temperatures considerably above their respective melting points, are fused in large
metallic or refractory containers at temperatures up to about 700oC. At higher
temperatures, heat-resisting Fe-Ni-Cr alloy pots or refractory containers should be
used. Excessive fuming of the bath is an indication of its maximum usable
temperature. The material to be annealed is placed in molten salts and absorbs heat
rapidly. After being annealed, the work metal is quenched in water to free it from
particles of the salt mixture. The annealed material will not be bright and may be flash
pickled to achieve a bright surface.

Material Open annealingoC Closed annealingoC

Nickel 200 815 to 925 705 to 760
Nickel 201 760 to 870 705 to 760
Monel 400 870 to 980 760 to 815
Monel R-405 870 to 980 760 to 815
Monel K-500 870 to 1040 Not applicable
Inconel 600 925 to 1040 925 to 980
Inconel 601 1095 to 1175 1095 to 1175
Inconel 617 1120 to 1175 1120 to 1175
Inconel 625 980 to 1150 980 to 1150
Inconel 718 955 to 980 Not applicable
Inconel X-750 1095 to 1150 Not applicable
Hastelloy B 1095 to 1185 -
Hastelloy C 1215 -
Hastelloy X 1175 1175
Soft-annealing methods for nickel and nickel alloys

Torch Annealing
Some large equipment is hardened locally by fabricating operations. If the available
annealing furnace is too small to hold the work piece, the hardened sections can be annealed
with the flames of oil or acetylene torches adjusted so as to be highly reducing.
The work should be warmed gently at first, with sweeping motions of the torch, and should
not be brought to the annealing temperature until sufficient preheating has been done to
prevent cracking as a result of sudden release of stress. (Note: Torch annealing is a poor
method for general use, because it provides irregular and insufficient annealing and produces
heavily oxidized surfaces.)

Dead-Soft Annealing
When the nickel alloys are annealed at higher temperatures and for longer periods, a
condition commonly described as "dead-soft" is obtained, and hardness numbers will result
that are 10 to 20% lower than those of the "soft" condition. This cannot be accomplished
without increasing the grain size of the metal. Therefore, this treatment should be used only
for those few applications in which grain size is of little importance.

Bright Annealing
The temperatures required for soft annealing of nickel and nickel alloys are sufficiently high
to cause slight surface oxidation unless the materials are heated in vacuum or in a furnace
provided with a reducing atmosphere. Nickel 200, Monel 400 and similar alloys will remain
bright and free from discoloration when heated and cooled in a reducing atmosphere.
However, nickel alloys containing chromium, titanium and aluminium will form a thin oxide
film. Even if oxidation is not important, the furnace atmosphere must be suitably sulphur-free
and not strongly oxidizing.
The protective atmosphere most commonly used in heating nickel and nickel alloys is that
provided by controlling the ratio between the fuel and air supplied to burners firing directly
into the furnace. A desirable reducing condition may be obtained by using a slight excess of
fuel so that the products of combustion contain at least 2% carbon monoxide plus hydrogen
(preferably 4%) with no more than 0.05% uncombined oxygen.
Another method of maintaining desired conditions of furnace atmosphere is to introduce a
prepared atmosphere into the heating and cooling chambers. This can be added to the
products of combustion in a direct-fired furnace; however, introduction of prepared
atmospheres is more commonly practiced with indirectly heated equipment.
Prepared atmospheres suitable for use with nickel and nickel alloys include: dried hydrogen,
dried nitrogen, dissociated ammonia, and cracked or partially reacted natural gas.

Continuous Annealing
When large volumes of product are involved, continuous annealing facility will be used.
Continuous furnaces are complex, it requiring more frequent inspections and maintenance
than a batch-type furnace and the initial capital outlay is higher as well. Most continuous
furnaces are of the open variety in which the nickel parts are exposed directly to the products
of combustion. Because of the annealing period is short, the temperature control is critical.
Continuous furnaces are not used for extended soaks; the hot-zone dwell time is quite short
compared to batch furnace. Besides, temperature uniformity within the hot zone is more
difficult to achieve because of the constant introduction of cold metal into the furnace. The
characteristics of a batch furnace is almost the same as the closed annealing in continuous
furnace. The necessity to minimize oxidation is critical; the reducing atmosphere is
continually introduced into the furnace and creating a positive furnace pressure. Most heat
treatments of this nature take place in an alloy muffle or supertight furnace lined with high-
quality alumina brick for better control of atmosphere and quality.

The major use of nickel is in the preparation of alloys. Nickel alloys are characterized by
strength, ductility, and resistance to corrosion and heat. The fraction of global nickel
production presently used for various applications is as follows: 60% for making nickel steels;
14% in nickel-copper alloys and nickel silver; 9% to make malleable nickel, nickel clad,
Inconel, and other superalloys; 6% in plating; 3% for nickel cast irons; 3% in heat and
electric resistance alloys, such as Nichrome; 2% for nickel brasses and bronzes; 3% in all
other applications combined.

Nickel is used in many specific and recognizable industrial and consumer products, including
stainless steel, alnico magnets, coinage, rechargeable batteries, electric guitar strings,
microphone capsules, and special alloys. It is also used for plating and as a green tint in glass.

As alloying agent
Nickel is preeminently an alloy metal, and its chief use is in the nickel steels and nickel cast
irons, of which there are many varieties. It is also widely used in many other alloys, such as
nickel brasses and bronzes, and alloys with copper, chromium, aluminium, lead, cobalt, silver,
and gold (Inconel, Incoloy, Monel, Nimonic).

As a Binder
Nickel is used as a binder in the cemented tungsten carbide or hardmetal industry and used in
proportions of six to 12% by weight. Nickel can make the tungsten carbide magnetic and
adds corrosion-resistant properties to the cemented tungsten carbide parts, although the
hardnesses are lower than those of parts made of the binder cobalt.

Magnetostrictive material
Nickel is a naturally magnetostrictive material, meaning that, in the presence of a magnetic
field, the material undergoes a small change in length. In the case of nickel, this change in
length is negative (contraction of the material), which is known as negative magnetostriction
and is on the order of 50 ppm.

As catalyst in chemical reaction

Nickel and its alloys are frequently used as catalysts for hydrogenation reactions. Raney
nickel, a finely-divided nickel-aluminium alloy, is one common form, however related
catalysts are also often used, including related 'Raney-type' catalysts.

Alnico magnet

Horseshoe magnet

A "horseshoe magnet" made of alnico nickel alloy. The composition of alnico alloys is
typically 8–12% Al, 15–26% Ni, 5–24% Co, up to 6% Cu, up to 1% Ti, and the balance is Fe.
The development of alnico began in 1931 when it was discovered that an alloy of iron, nickel,
and aluminum had a coercivity double that of the best magnet steels of the time. Alnico
magnets are now being replaced by rare earth magnets in many applications.

Substitute for decorative silver

Nickel is considered as corrosion-resistant metal because of its slow rate of oxidation reaction
at room temperature. And because of its resistance to corrosion, nickel has been occasionally
used historically as a substitute for decorative silver.

As electrodes in fuel cells

Nickel foam or nickel mesh is used in gas diffusion electrodes for alkaline fuel cells. Besides
that, the cathode catalyst of the fuel cell is often made up of nickel.

As coinage metal

US 5 Cent Nickel Coin Back

Nickel was also occasionally used in some countries after 1859 as a cheap coinage but
beginning the later years of the 20th century, it has largely replaced by cheaper stainless steel
(i.e., iron) alloys, except notably in the United States.

Production of jet engine

Nickel superalloy jet engine (RB199) turbine blade

Nickel resist corrosion at room temperature even high temperature. And because of this
properties, it is used in manufacturing of gas turbines and rocket engines.

Nickel electroplating
Nickel electroplating is a technique of electroplating a thin layer of nickel onto a metal object.
The nickel layer can be decorative, provide corrosion resistance, wear resistance, or used to
build-up worn or undersized parts for salvage purposes.

Ideal material for propeller shaft in boat

Boat propeller shaft made from nickel alloy

Monel is an alloy of nickel and copper (e.g. 70% nickel, 30% copper with traces of iron,
manganese and silicon), which is not only hard but also can resist corrosion by sea water with
salt, so that it is ideal for propeller shaft in boats and desalination plants for converting sea
water into fresh water.

Colouring agent
Nickel is a colouring agent. It is used in the production of smoky coloured glass and in
conjunction with cobalt for decolourising lead crystal. When it is introduced into lead crystal
it gives a purplish colour, which compensates for a yellow tint produced by other constituents.

Manufacturing of battery

Nickel–metal hydride battery Nickel–cadmium battery

A nickel–metal hydride cell and nickel–cadmium cell are two types of rechargeable battery.
The nickel–metal hydride cell battery uses a hydrogen-absorbing alloy for the negative
electrode but cadmium for nickel–cadmium cell. As in NiCd cells, the positive electrode is
nickel oxyhydroxide (NiOOH). A NiMH battery can have two to three times the capacity of
an equivalent size nickel–cadmium battery.

Uses of Nickel compounds

a) Nickel(II) chloride solutions are used for electroplating nickel onto other metal items.
b) Nickel oxide is relatively pure material for specialty applications, and "metallurgical
grade", which is mainly used for the production of alloys. It is used in the ceramic
industry to make frits, ferrites, and porcelain glazes. The sintered oxide is used to
produce nickel steel alloys.
c) Nickel fluoride is a water insoluble nickel source for use in oxygen-sensitive
applications, such as metal production. In extremely low concentrations (ppm),
fluoride compounds are used in health applications. Fluoride compounds also have
significant uses in synthetic organic chemistry. They are commonly also used to alloy
metal and for optical deposition.
d) Nickel(II) iodide has found some industrial applications as a catalyst in carbonylation
reactions. It is also has niche uses as a reagent in organic synthesis, especially in
conjunction with samarium(II) iodide.
e) Nickel carbonyl is an intermediate in the Mond process for the purification of nickel
and a reagent in organometallic chemistry.

Nickel is quite important metal on the Earth. The use of nickel (as a natural meteoric nickel-
iron alloy) has been traced as far back as 3500 BC. Nickel was first isolated and classified as
a chemical element in 1751 by Axel Fredrik Cronstedt. The abundance of nickel in earth's
crust is about 84 parts per million by weight, 30 parts per million by moles. But abundance in
solar system is 80 parts per million by weight, 2 parts per million by moles. Based on
geophysical evidence, most nickel on Earth is inaccessible because it is locked away in the
planet's iron-nickel molten core, which is 10 % nickel.

On Earth, nickel occurs most often in combination with sulfur and iron in pentlandite, with
sulfur in millerite, with arsenic in the mineral nickeline, and with arsenic and sulfur in nickel
galena. Nickel is commonly found in iron meteorites as the alloys kamacite and taenite. This
metal is mined in Russia, Australia, New Caledonia, Cuba, Canada and South Africa. Annual
production exceeds 500,000 tons and easily workable reserves will last at least 150 years.

In the aspects of physical properties, nickel is in solid phase at room temperature. Nickel is a
poor electrical conductor. But it have a quite high thermal conductivity and is a good
conductor. On the other hand, the chemical reactivity of nickel is low. Nickel metal totally
does not react with water and bases. It reactions with air, acids and halogens are very slow,
too. Therefore, nickel can be said as a good corrosion resistance element since it has excellent
resistance to many corrosive environments.

Besides that, the mechanical properties of nickel is tough and ductile at low temperature. Yet,
nickel and its alloys can be hardened through cold working operations, such as rolling, deep
drawing, spinning or severe bending. Other than that, nickel can also be strengthened through
age hardening or precipitate hardening process.

Since nickel has the good tendency in improving resistance to oxidation and corrosion as well
as increasing toughness of other metal, it is widely used in preparation of alloys. Nickel
forms various types of nickel base alloys. Next, because of the excellent performance of
nickel in improving the properties of other metals, it is used in manufacturing of binder,
substitute for decorative silver, jet engine and also boat propeller shaft.

Even though nickel provides so many benefits to human being, but as environmental-friendly
users, we should use it wisely so that the supply of nickel would not be cut off. In other
words, this natural resource is limited and we should do our best in conserving it as it is a
very important element in our life.


1. “Materials Handbook, 2nd ”, Francois Cardarelli, year 2008

2. “The materials Selector, 2nd ”, Norman A. Waterman and Michael F.
Ashby, year 1997
3. ASM Speciality Handbook, “Nickel, Cobalt, And their Alloys”, year
4. ASM Handbook Volume 4, “Heat treatment”, year 1991
5. ASM Handbook Volume 3, “Alloy Phase Diagrams”, year 1992
6. “Metals Handbook, Desk Edition, Second Edition”, J. R. Davis, year