Nickel is a silvery-white lustrous metal with a slight golden tinge. Nickel belongs to the transition metals and is hard and ductile. The global production of nickel is presently used as follows: 68% in stainless steel; 10% in nonferrous alloys; 9% in electroplating; 7% in alloy steel; 3% in foundries; and 4% other uses (including batteries).
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Nickel is extracted by roasting to NiO and then reducing with carbon. The Mond process is used to manufacture pure nickel, in which impure nickel reacts with carbon monoxide (CO) to form Ni(CO)4, which is then decomposed at 200 °C to yield 99.99% Ni.
Protons and Neutrons in Nickel
The total number of neutrons in the nucleus of an atom is called the neutron number of the atom and is given the symbol N. Neutron number plus atomic number equals atomic mass number: N+Z=A. The difference between the neutron number and the atomic number is known as the neutron excess: D = N – Z = A – 2Z.
For stable elements, there is usually a variety of stable isotopes. Isotopes are nuclides that have the same atomic number and are therefore the same element, but differ in the number of neutrons. Mass numbers of typical isotopes of Nickel are 60; 61; 62; 64.
Main Isotopes of Nickel
Naturally occurring nickel is composed of five stable isotopes; 58Ni, 60Ni, 61Ni, 62Ni and 64Ni, with 58Ni being the most abundant (68.077% natural abundance).
Nickel-58 is composed of 28 protons, 30 neutrons, and 28 electrons. Nickel-58 is the most abundant isotope of nickel, making up 68.077% of the natural abundance.
Nickel-60 is composed of 28 protons, 32 neutrons, and 28 electrons.
Nickel-61 is composed of 28 protons, 33 neutrons, and 28 electrons. Nickel-61 is the only stable isotope of nickel with a nuclear spin (I = 3/2), which makes it useful for studies by EPR spectroscopy.
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Nickel-62 is composed of 28 protons, 34 neutrons, and 28 electrons. Nickel-62 has the highest mean nuclear binding energy per nucleon of any nuclide, at 8.7946 MeV/nucleon. Its binding energy is greater than both 56Fe and 58Fe, more abundant elements often incorrectly cited as having the most tightly bound nuclides.