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Nickel: makes stainless steel strong

Fact Sheet 2012-3024

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Abstract

Nickel is a silvery-white metal that is used mainly to make stainless steel and other alloys stronger and better able to withstand extreme temperatures and corrosive environments. Nickel was first identified as a unique element in 1751 by Baron Axel Fredrik Cronstedt, a Swedish mineralogist and chemist. He originally called the element kupfernickel because it was found in rock that looked like copper (kupfer) ore and because miners thought that "bad spirits" (nickel) in the rock were making it difficult for them to extract copper from it. Approximately 80 percent of the primary (not recycled) nickel consumed in the United States in 2011 was used in alloys, such as stainless steel and superalloys. Because nickel increases an alloy's resistance to corrosion and its ability to withstand extreme temperatures, equipment and parts made of nickel-bearing alloys are often used in harsh environments, such as those in chemical plants, petroleum refineries, jet engines, power generation facilities, and offshore installations. Medical equipment, cookware, and cutlery are often made of stainless steel because it is easy to clean and sterilize. All U.S. circulating coins except the penny are made of alloys that contain nickel. Nickel alloys are increasingly being used in making rechargeable batteries for portable computers, power tools, and hybrid and electric vehicles. Nickel is also plated onto such items as bathroom fixtures to reduce corrosion and provide an attractive finish.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Nickel: makes stainless steel strong
Series title:
Fact Sheet
Series number:
2012-3024
Year Published:
2012
Language:
English
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
Mineral Resources Program Coordinator
Description:
2 p.
Online Only (Y/N):
N
Additional Online Files(Y/N):
N