Nickel is one of the transition metals that has a lustrous gold and metallic silver color in its natural solid state. Nickel has an atomic weight of 58.6934, a melting point of 2651 °F, and a boiling point of 5275 °F. While nickel is a reactive element, it does not oxidize easily when exposed to air. Some common uses of nickel include: as a component in magnets and coins, as a component in metallic alloys, as a component of stainless steel, as a component in nickel cast iron.
Nickel that is used for commercial purposes is isolated from two primary types or ores: the laterite ore minerals, and sulfide deposits.
Laterite mineral ores are primarily composed of limonite, (Fe, Ni)O(OH), and garnierite, (Ni, Mg)3Si2O5(OH). The sulfide deposits are composed primarily of pentlandite, (Ni,Fe)9S8. Nickel is isolated using the principles of extractive metallurgy. During this isolation process, the nickel ore is heated and then undergoes reduction; this heating and reduction step results in a composition of nickel that is approximately ¾ pure. To isolate the nickel further for almost 100% purity, the Mond process is used.
During the Mond process, nickel is combined with carbon monoxide and heated to approximately 122 °F. The result of the reaction causes a volatile nickel carbonyl to form, and other impurities are left in a solid state. The nickel carbonyl is then brought into a chamber where it is exposed to high temperatures along with nickel spheres which are constantly moving; over time, the nickel carbonyl disintegrates and pure nickel is deposited into the nickel spheres forming solid nickel pellets.
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