Nickel Powder:Types, Uses, Specs, and Suppliers

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Nickel powder is a fine granular form of nickel metal used in various industrial applications. This guide provides a comprehensive overview of nickel powder including different types, characteristics, applications, specifications, suppliers, installation, operation and maintenance.

Overview of Nickel Powder

Nickel powder is made up of small nickel particles, typically less than 100 microns in size. It has a gray color and metallic luster. Nickel powder is produced by various methods including carbonyl decomposition, electrolytic deposition, atomization and reduction of nickel salts.

Some key properties and uses of nickel powder include:

  • High purity nickel content of 99% or more
  • Uniform particle shape and size distribution
  • Good thermal and electrical conductivity
  • Used to manufacture nickel alloys and metal products
  • Used for production of batteries, catalysts, electronics
  • Used for diamond tool coating and 3D printing
  • Provides corrosion resistance and wear resistance

Nickel powder has found wide applications across industries due to its versatile material properties. This guide covers different types, specifications, suppliers, uses, installation and maintenance of nickel powder in detail.

Types of Nickel Powder

There are several different classifications and grades of nickel powder based on production method, particle size, shape, purity levels, oxide content and additive elements.

Table 1: Types of Nickel Powder

TypeDescriptionCharacteristics
Carbonyl nickel powderProduced by carbonyl decomposition processHigh purity, spherical particles, good flowability
Electrolytic nickel powderProduced by electrolytic depositionDendritic flake shape, high purity
Carbonyl iron powderMade by reducing nickel saltsIrregular shape, lower purity
Composite nickel powderContains alloying elements like graphene, carbon nanotubesEnhanced properties
Nano nickel powderParticles less than 100 nm in sizeHigh surface area, high reactivity

The major types covered include:

  • Carbonyl nickel powder – Made by carbonyl decomposition of nickel carbonyl, has spherical morphology and high purity of 99.9%.
  • Electrolytic nickel powder – Produced by electrolytic deposition and has dendritic flake like particles with over 99% purity.
  • Carbonyl iron powder – Made by reduction of nickel salts, has lower purity around 98% with irregular shaped particles.
  • Composite nickel powder – Contains added alloying elements like copper, graphene, carbon nanotubes to modify properties.
  • Nano nickel powder – Ultrafine particles under 100 nm in size having high surface area and enhanced reactivity.

The choice of nickel powder type depends on factors like required purity levels, particle characteristics, intended application and cost.

Characteristics of Nickel Powder

Nickel powder is evaluated based on various physical and chemical characteristics:

Table 2: Nickel Powder Characteristics

CharacteristicDescriptionTypical Values
Particle shapeMorphology of individual particles (spherical, flakes, irregular)Spherical, dendritic, irregular
Particle sizeDiameter of powder particles1 – 100 microns
Particle size distributionRange of particle sizesD10, D50, D90 values
Apparent densityPowder mass per unit volume1 – 5 g/cc
Tap densityMaximum packing density30-80% of pure nickel density
Specific surface areaSurface area per unit mass0.5 – 10 m2/g
PurityNickel content in the powder99% to 99.9% purity
Oxide contentOxygen bound to nickelLess than 2% preferred
CrystallinityRatio of crystalline to amorphous natureDetermined by XRD
FlowabilityAbility of particles to flow freelyMeasured by Hall flowmeter
CompressibilityAbility of powder to be compressedDetermined from pressure-density curves

Key characteristics like particle size, shape, purity and oxide levels determine the quality and performance of nickel powder. Manufacturers provide detailed technical datasheets for their products specifying these parameters.

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Applications and Uses of Nickel Powder

Nickel powder finds diverse applications across various industries owing to its unique properties like high temperature resistance, corrosion resistance, catalytic activity, etc.

Table 3: Applications of Nickel Powder

IndustryApplicationPurpose
MetallurgyAlloy productionImpart strength, ductility, corrosion resistance
ManufacturingMetal injection moldingProduce complex parts with good mechanical properties
BatteriesBattery electrodesProvides high energy density as active material
CatalystsCatalysts for hydrogenation, petrochemical processesProvides high activity due to large surface area
ElectronicsConductive coatings, EMI shieldingGood electrical conductivity, solderability
Diamond toolsDiamond tool coatingEnhances wear resistance and thermal conductivity
Additive manufacturingBinder jetting, laser powder bed fusionCreates 3D printed metal parts
CoatingsMetallic coatingsGives decorative finish, improves corrosion and wear resistance

The major application areas of nickel powder include:

  • Metallurgy – Used as alloying element to produce stainless steel, superalloys, etc. with enhanced properties.
  • Manufacturing – Used in metal injection molding to produce complex net-shape components.
  • Batteries – Used as active material in nickel metal hydride batteries to provide high energy density.
  • Catalysts – Widely used as catalyst for hydrogenation, reforming, petrochemical processes.
  • Electronics – Used in conductive coatings, EMI shielding, solders, contacts, RFID tags.
  • Diamond tools – Coating on diamond abrasive tools improves thermal conductivity and wear resistance.
  • 3D Printing – Binder jetting and laser powder bed fusion uses nickel powder to print metal components.
  • Coatings – Decorative metallic finish, improves corrosion resistance of steel.

Nickel powder enables high performance applications in diverse sectors due to its specialized properties.

Specifications and Design Standards

Nickel powder products must meet certain specifications outlined by manufacturing standards to ensure quality and performance.

Table 4: Nickel Powder Specifications

ParameterTypical SpecificationTest Method
Nickel contentMin 99% purityASTM B809
Oxygen content0.5% maxInert gas fusion
Apparent density2 – 5 g/ccASTM B212
Tap densityUp to 80% of pure nickelASTM B527
Particle size1 – 100 micronsLaser diffraction
ShapeSpherical, flakes, irregularSEM imaging
Flow rate25 – 35 s/50gHall flowmeter
Compressibility20 – 30% at 1000 MPaASTM B331
Surface area0.5 – 10 m2/gBET method
ToxicityNon-hazardousCompliant to OSHA standards

Key specifications prescribed by ASTM standards include purity, oxygen content, density, particle size distribution, flowability, compressibility and toxicity. Manufacturers must ensure their nickel powder products meet these requirements.

Nickel Powder Manufacturing Process

Nickel powder can be produced through various processes that determine its characteristics:

Table 5: Nickel Powder Manufacturing Processes

ProcessMethodologyCharacteristics
Carbonyl processThermal decomposition of nickel carbonylHigh purity, spherical particles
ElectrolysisElectrolytic deposition from solutionDendritic flake shape, pure powder
AtomizationRapid solidification of molten nickelIrregular particles with wide size range
ReductionReducing nickel salts using hydrogenLower purity powder with oxygen content
  • Carbonyl process – Nickel carbonyl gas is decomposed at 200°C to produce high purity spherical powder.
  • Electrolysis – Aqueous electrolytic deposition using nickel anodes produces dendritic flakes.
  • Atomization – Molten nickel sprayed by water or gas yields irregular particles cooling rapidly.
  • Reduction – Nickel oxide reduced using hydrogen gives sponge-like powder with some oxygen.

Key process factors include temperature, gas flowrates, voltage, precursor chemistry, etc. which determine nickel powder characteristics.

Advanced techniques like plasma atomization and chemical vapor synthesis allow producing ultrafine and nano nickel powders.

Process Design Considerations

The nickel powder manufacturing process must be designed considering parameters like:

Table 6: Nickel Powder Process Design Factors

ParameterTypical ValuesImpact on powder properties
PrecursorNickel carbonyl, electrolyte, oxideDetermines purity levels
Temperature200 to 2000°CAffects particle size and shape
AtmosphereVacuum, inert gas, hydrogenReduces oxygen content
Pressure1 to 20 barImproves particle sphericity
Quench mediumAir, water, oilControls cooling rate and shape
Deposition rate10 – 50 microns/minInfluences powder morphology
AgitationMagnetic stirring, fluidizationEnsures uniformity

Key factors include selection of suitable precursors, maintaining high process temperatures in controlled atmospheres, high quench rates for small particles, optimizing process parameters like pressure, voltage and flowrates.

Advanced process control and online monitoring systems allow close regulation of parameters for consistent nickel powder quality.

Nickel Powder Manufacturers

Some of the major global manufacturers of various grades of nickel powder include:

Table 7: Nickel Powder Suppliers

CompanyLocationProduction CapacityProducts
ValeCanada50,000 mt/yearCarbonyl, electrolytic, alloy grades
Jien NickelChina20,000 mt/yearNano, carbonyl, electrolytic
BASFGermany15,000 mt/yearCarbonyl, catalyst grades
LindeGermany10,000 mt/yearCarbonyl, spherical
SandvikSweden5,000 mt/yearAlloy, composite, graphene grades
Ed FaganUSA3,000 mt/yearCarbonyl, dendritic, reduced
American ElementsUSA1,000 mt/yearNano, high purity grades

Some of the top nickel powder manufacturers globally include:

  • Vale – Leading producer of carbonyl, electrolytic and alloy nickel powders.
  • Jien Nickel – Major Chinese company manufacturing nano, carbonyl and electrolytic grades.
  • BASF – German chemical company producing carbonyl and catalyst nickel powders.
  • Linde – Renowned industrial gas company supplying carbonyl and spherical nickel.
  • Sandvik – Swedish firm making specialty alloy, composite and graphene nickel.
  • Ed Fagan – American company manufacturing various carbonyl, dendritic and reduced nickel.
  • American Elements – USA based manufacturer of high purity nano nickel powders.

These companies have sizable production capacities catering to the worldwide nickel powder demand.

nickel powder

Installing and Operating Nickel Powder Systems

Proper installation, operation and maintenance procedures must be followed when handling nickel powder to ensure safety, performance and longevity.

Table 8: Nickel Powder System Installation Tips

ParameterGuidelines
StorageStore in original containers in dry, inert atmosphere
HandlingUse spark-proof tools, minimize dust generation
EquipmentChoose compatible materials like nickel, stainless steel
VentilationInstall dust collection system with filtration units
GroundingGround all equipment to prevent static charge buildup
SafetyWear PPE – respirators, gloves, goggles, suits
UtilitiesEnsure stable power, water, gas supply lines
InstrumentationInstall monitors for pressure, temperature, flows
CommissioningTest all functions and calibrate instrumentation

Table 9: Nickel Powder Operation Best Practices

ActivitiesProcedure
Startup/ShutdownFollow SOPs, use checklists for each step
LoadingCareful loading under inert atmosphere using dust collection
ProcessingMaintain operating parameters within specified range
MonitoringContinuous monitoring of temperature, pressure, flows
SafetyUse appropriate PPE suited for nickel powder hazards
MaintenanceRegular inspection and maintenance after shutdowns
HousekeepingKeep work areas clean, remove powder spills promptly
TroubleshootingConsult operating manuals for troubleshooting tips

Table 10: Maintenance Activities for Nickel Powder Systems

TaskMethodFrequency
InspectionCheck for component wear, leaks, corrosionMonthly
Filter cleaningBackwash dust filters, replace if needed3-6 months
Equipment cleaningClean vessels, pipes of residual powderYearly
CalibrationCalibrate critical instruments like pressure sensorsYearly
OverhaulReplace worn components like seals, gaskets2-3 years
Process auditReview process data, identify improvementsYearly
Safety drillsConduct mock emergency drillsQuarterly
Staff trainingRefresh equipment operating and safety proceduresYearly

Following standard operating procedures for startup, shutdown, loading, processing, monitoring, maintenance and troubleshooting ensures smooth functioning of nickel powder handling systems with minimal downtime.

Regular maintenance like cleaning filters, instruments calibration, overhauling components prevents ageing and prolongs equipment life.

Choosing a Nickel Powder Supplier

Selection of a suitable nickel powder supplier is important to get the right quality product for the application:

Table 11: Nickel Powder Supplier Selection Criteria

ParameterPreferred Criteria
ReputationWell known company with years of experience
LocationClose proximity ensures quick product delivery
ManufacturingUses approved process with quality control
CertificationsISO certified for quality management system
TestingProvides test reports for every batch
VarietiesOffers multiple nickel powder varieties
CustomizationAllows custom particle size, shape if needed
Order sizeHas capability to deliver in small and bulk quantities
SupportProvides technical assistance and troubleshooting
PricingReasonable pricing with discounts for bulk orders

Key considerations for choosing a nickel powder supplier include:

  • Reputation – Established company with proven track record
  • Location – Close proximity for quick delivery
  • Manufacturing – Uses standard approved production process
  • Certifications – Has ISO 9001 certification for example
  • Testing – Provides detailed test reports for each batch
  • Varieties – Offers different nickel powder types
  • Customization – Allows tailoring particle size or shape if required
  • Order size – Capability to deliver small lab-scale to bulk orders
  • Support – Provides technical assistance to customers
  • Pricing – Cost-effective pricing, discounts on bulk purchases

Careful supplier evaluation and selection ensures obtaining the optimal nickel powder type for the specific application need.

Pros and Cons of Nickel Powder

Nickel powder offers several benefits but also has some limitations:

Table 12: Advantages and Disadvantages of Nickel Powder

ProsCons
Good corrosion resistanceExposure can cause nickel allergies
High temperature resistanceToxic oxides form at high temperature
Excellent thermal conductivityRequires careful handling to avoid fire hazard
High purity levels achievableOxidation and contamination can occur during storage
Wide range of types and sizesHard to fully compress into dense components
Versatile material propertiesRelatively expensive compared to iron or copper powders
Used in many critical applicationsRecycling nickel powder is difficult

Advantages

  • Excellent corrosion and high temperature resistance
  • Good thermal and electrical conductivity
  • High purity levels from 99% to 99.9% nickel
  • Many varieties available with different particle characteristics
  • Used in high performance applications like batteries, alloys, catalysts
  • Provides wear resistance, ductility, hardness in alloys

Disadvantages

  • Nickel allergies can occur with prolonged skin exposure
  • Toxic nickel oxides form at very high temperatures
  • Fire hazards due to fine particles necessitate careful handling
  • Prone to oxidation and contamination during storage
  • Relatively lower compressibility into dense components
  • More expensive compared to iron or copper powder
  • Difficult to recycle after usage into new powder

Understanding the key benefits and limitations helps select the right grade for specific applications. Proper handling and storage precautions must be taken due to hazards like fire risks, inhalation, etc.

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Nickel Powder Pricing

Nickel powder price depends on several factors like:

Table 13: Nickel Powder Price Range

TypePrice Range
Carbonyl nickel$50 – $100 per kg
Electrolytic nickel$30 – $60 per kg
Iron nickel$15 – $30 per kg
Nano nickel$200 – $2000 per kg
  • Purity levels (99% – 99.9%)
  • Particle shape (spherical, flake, irregular)
  • Particle size distribution
  • Surface area
  • Production process (carbonyl, electrolytic)
  • Order quantity
  • Additional alloying elements or coatings
  • Carbonyl nickel powder is more expensive due to high purity and spherical shape, costing $50 – $100 per kg.
  • Electrolytic nickel with dendritic flake shape costs moderately at $30 – $60 per kg.
  • Reduced iron nickel has lower purity around 98% and cheaper at $15 – $30 per kg.
  • Nano-sized nickel powders less than 100 nm can cost between $200 – $2000 per kg owing to complex manufacturing.
  • Prices are highest for ultra high purity 99.99%, spherical nickel powders used in critical applications.
  • Flake shaped dendritic particles are cheaper than spherical morphologies.
  • Smaller nano-sized particles have much higher cost than micron-sized powders.
  • Buying in bulk quantities can offer 15-20% cost reduction compared to small lab-scale orders.
  • Alloy grades with additives like chromium, copper increase pricing over pure nickel powder.
  • Graphene or carbide coated nickel powders are more expensive than uncoated.
  • Packaging in vacuum sealed containers also adds to cost over ordinary packing.

Updated pricing and discounts should be obtained from nickel powder suppliers directly based on purchase volumes and required grade specifications.

Conclusion

Nickel powder is a versatile material with applications across diverse sectors owing to properties like corrosion resistance, thermal/electrical conductivity, catalytic activity and alloying ability. It is commercially produced in various particle sizes and morphologies using processes like carbonyl decomposition, electrolysis, atomization and reduction. Nickel powder is used for manufacturing alloys, metal products, batteries, electronics, coatings and 3D printing. Key selection criteria are based on purity levels, particle characteristics, availability, cost and application requirements. Leading global suppliers provide high quality nickel powder tailored to customer specifications along with technical expertise. Following safety precautions during handling and using appropriate installation, operation and maintenance procedures ensures optimal performance in industrial systems.

Nickel Powder FAQs

Q: How is nickel powder made?

A: Key manufacturing processes include carbonyl decomposition, electrolysis, atomization and reduction which produce different nickel powder types.

Q: What are the different varieties of nickel powder?

A: Major types include carbonyl, electrolytic, iron, nano, alloy, composite, graphene nickel powder with varying particle shape, size, purity levels.

Q: What is carbonyl nickel powder?

A: It is produced by decomposition of nickel carbonyl gas and has high purity of 99.9% with spherical particle morphology.

Q: What is the typical particle size range?

A: Nickel powder particles are usually between 1-100 microns in size, while nano-powders are under 100 nm.

Q: How to choose the right nickel powder type?

A: Selection depends on required purity, particle shape, proposed application, performance needs and budget constraints.

Q: Where is nickel powder used?

A: Major applications are in alloy production, metal injection molding, batteries, catalysts, coatings, 3D printing, etc.

Q: How expensive is nickel powder?

A: Price ranges from $15/kg for irregular iron nickel up to $2000/kg for ultrafine nano nickel powder based on characteristics.

Q: What precautions are needed when handling nickel powder?

A: Use PPE, ensure proper grounding to avoid fire hazards, prevent contact with skin to avoid nickel allergies.

Q: How to select a good nickel powder supplier?

A: Choose reputed suppliers offering high purity products validated by test reports, good customer service and reasonable pricing.

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