Nickel, abbreviated Ni in the table of elements, is one of the most widely-used elements in the long list of elements in the periodic table. A silvery-white metallic element, nickel can be found in almost everything metallic and is an important element in our daily lives. Here’s why:
1. Nickel came from the German word “kupfernickel” which means “devil’s copper.” It was found by German miners who thought that it was copper, but when they failed to extract copper, they blamed it on being a work of the devil, hence the name.
2. Nickel is the fifth most common element on earth that can be found almost everywhere, with its use in over 300,000 products for consumer, industrial, military, transport, aerospace, marine and architectural applications. When mixed with other metals, it produces stainless and heat-resistant steels such as cooking utensils, medical equipment, and others.
3. The Philippines is one of the top producers of Nickel in Asia, with Rio Tuba Mine in Bataraza, Palawan yielding an estimated reserve of 60.2 million tons of nickel ore or 764, 000 tons of nickel metal.
4. Nickel is one of the most recycled materials globally. Being 100 percent recyclable, nickel or nickel alloys are collected and re-used for future use. It helps the environment and industries worldwide with its recyclable properties, thus is featured in eco-friendly pans, pots, kitchen sinks, batteries, as well as medical and food processing equipment.
5. Nickel can be found in food, especially in chocolate. Dark chocolate has a nickel concentration of 2.6 micrograms per gram; milk chocolate has 1.2 ug/g and pure powdered cocoa 9.8 ug/g. Cashews also have concentrated nickel at 5.1 ug/g. Kidney beans contains 0.45 ug/g, while spinach has 0.39 ug/g. Other vegetables that contain nickel are peas, leeks, beans, soya (and soy protein powder), lentils, cabbage, kale, spinach, lettuce, and bean sprouts. Shellfish also contain a considerable amount of nickel.
6. Nickel, along with copper, zinc, steel and aluminum, is commonly used in coins. It is mostly used in American coins (the ve-cent coin which has taken its name), but in the Philippines, old coins still in circulation contain several percentages of nickel. The 10-peso coin, 5-peso coin and 1-peso coin contains 27%, 5.5%, and 25% of nickel, respectively.
7. Nickel is necessary for healthy plant life. Nickel, in small amounts, is found in plant enzymes that help balance the ammonia in them. Without it, the toxic levels of ammonie can accumulate in the plant’s tissues and thus the plant becomes entirely toxic.
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