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What is nickel used for?

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Quick Answer

Nickel is widely used in electronics, coinage, chemical reactions and the production of stainless steel. It is frequently used in an alloy form with iron and chromium.

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Full Answer

Stainless steels are often alloys that contain 8 to 12 percent nickel. Alloys with higher nickel content have some specialized uses in gas turbines and chemical plants. Nickel plating or nickel coating is also a common practice for both strengthening and decorating materials.

Nickel is also a key component in nickel-metal hydride rechargeable battery systems. These systems are most common in emergency power supplies, portable tools and electronics, among other applications.

Nickel is used in some coins, but often as an alloy that contains more copper than nickel. The U.S. nickel coin is actually only 25 percent nickel. There is also a relatively small amount of nickel in dimes, quarters and larger coin denominations. Part of the reason for nickel's use in coins is that it forms a strong antimicrobial compound when combined in an alloy with copper. It is also resistant to corrosion, due to a very slow rate of oxidization at room temperature.

Other miscellaneous uses of nickel include the production of electric guitar strings, microphone capsules and green tint in glass.

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