Use of nickel alloys
The volume of nickel use in pure form is approximately 8%. Of total consumption. The main nickel consumer is metallurgy, which offers a wide variety of alloys, in which nickel acts either as a doping element or as the main component.
As a chemical element, nickel has been known for more than 200 years, although the practical use of its alloys began even in ancient times. Since the Iron Age, nickel, along with iron, has taken a special place. These metals accompanied each other in a native state, especially often in the meteorite gland. The ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, India began to use nickel alloys over 5000 years ago. Until now, excavations in Egypt have excellently preserved products from meteoric iron containing from 6 to 50−60% of nickel. Ancient metallurgists intuitively understood the ennobling action of nickel on alloys without knowledge of its chemical properties and methods of obtaining in pure form.
From the middle of the XVIII century, with the development of chemistry, it was possible to identify many metals in pure form, including nickel. Metals of the VIII group (nickel groups) did not take the last place in substantiating the periodicity of the properties of the elements. They became a link between the elements of the main subgroup and the subgroups (subgroup B), reflecting the trend of changing the properties of elements over the periods.
After the discovery of large deposits of nickel in the XIX century, its industrial use began. It was found that alloying with nickel increases the corrosion resistance of alloys, heat resistance, viscosity and strength, gives metals special electrical and magnetic properties. With the development of industry, the need arose for steels and alloys with special properties. Nickel has taken a leading position in the creation of new materials. By the end of the 20th century, more than 3000 different compositions of nickel alloys were developed. In our time, nickel has become truly indispensable metal with remarkable prospects for further use.
In modern engineering and instrument making, nickel is in demand in its pure form as a corrosion-resistant, ferrimagnetic material. In industrial chemistry — as a catalyst. In electrical engineering — as a filling of powerful batteries. Pure nickel is indispensable for the application of protective coatings, which impart high chemical resistance to the metal surface. It is difficult to overestimate the importance of this metal in alloying steels and alloys. A particularly successful combination of nickel alloys with chromium and iron. Nichrome and ferronichromes — heat resistant corrosion and acid-resistant alloys with high resistance are indispensable for heating elements of industrial electric furnaces and household appliances. It should also be noted alloys with copper, beryllium, cobalt, where nickel is needed as a binder. Nickel alloys play an important role in nuclear power engineering. They are used as protective shells to protect uranium rods from corrosion in nuclear boilers.
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