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Test for Nickel

Posted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 6:16 am
by ljbeng
My freind thinks he found a meteorite on his farm. It has to have iron and nickel to verify. We can make a magnet on a string move so we are sure it has iron. What can we do to test for nickel? Thanks.

Posted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 8:54 am
by Chris Smith
Check your acids.

From memory SS [nickel] is resistant to nitric acid for the most part.

Im sure a reaction to different acids can be found.

Also from the web.....

I have had some success using a nickel allergy test kit to determine whether metal contains nickel. Such kits are available at well-stocked pharmacies and can be ordered over the Internet. All such tests rely on dimethylglyoxime, which forms a complex with ionic nickel that has a distinct pinkish color.

Some people have allergies to nickel and metal alloys that contain nickel. The kit I tested was designed to determine whether "metallic objects" contain nickel. It consisted of 2 dropper bottles. "Solution A" was dimethylglyoxime in alcohol. "Solution B" was a weak solution of ammonium hydroxide in water.

Posted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 10:59 am
by Ron H
Check out this site.
Also, Google "meteorite test".

Posted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 9:50 pm
by Ni-Cad Steve
I'm going back to colege chemisty notes so I'll have to make a second post regarding acidic testing. I do work with nickel on a daily basis. Nickel is slightly magnetic so your material may very well contain Nickel. An easy test to perform is a density test. The accuracy of the results depends on the accuracy of the measurement apparatus. If your sample is as big as a marble, select the smallest graduated cylinder that will accomodate your sample. Partially fill the graduated cylinder to an even number (say 20 mL in a 50 mL cylinder). Add the sample and record the increase in volume. Measure the mass of the sample. Divide the mass of the sample by the ending volume in the cylinder from the starting volume. The results are in g/mL form. From the periodic chart, a pure iron sample will have a density of 7.86 g/mL; a pure nickel sample will have a density of 8.9 g/mL. Assuming that the sample is mostly iron and nickel your value should be between 7.86 and 8.9. This is a very easy test and doesn't require any chemicals. You may even be able to use the help of the local community college which has all of the apparatus you might need. Otherwise my favorite purveyor of chemistry is Shape products in Oakland, CA. They can definitely get you the chemicals and should be able to do the labware as well.

Posted: Thu Jan 04, 2007 11:10 am
by haklesup
If it is a meteorite, it's an iron nickel alloy and may also contain regions of olivine (rock) and the ratio of those parts helps determine what parent meteor shower it came from.

Typically the determination is made by cutting or cross sectioning a flat section which is then polished and etched with acid (probably something nitric based). The resulting metallurgical pattern of metal grains is compared to other samples of known origin. A polished sample 1/4" thick and a few inches across can sell for thousands of $ so cutting should not diminish the value. Like a diamond, a cut and polished jem sells for far more than the uncut stone. Do consult an expert before you cut it to preserve the max value.

However, if you are simply trying to determine if the rock is a real meteorite or just a hunk of rusted steel or slag then the appearance should be sufficient. You should just take a picture, weigh it, measure it and post the details on an astronomy forum and someone will probably know right off.

Posted: Thu Jan 04, 2007 11:35 am
by ljbeng
I sent a picture out the guy in Wasington, thanks Ron H. I may get my friend at the high school science dept. to help with more tests. Thanks all.