Iron–nickel alloy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

An iron–nickel alloy or nickel–iron alloy, abbreviated FeNi or NiFe, is a group of alloys consisting primarily of the elements nickel (Ni) and iron (Fe). It is the main constituent of the "iron" planetary cores and iron meteorites. In chemistry, the acronym NiFe refers to an iron–nickel catalyst or component involved in various chemical reactions, or the reactions themselves; in geology, it refers to the main constituents of telluric planetary cores (including Earth's).

Some manufactured alloys of iron–nickel are called nickel steel or stainless steel. Depending on the intended use of the alloy, these are usually fortified with small amounts of other metals, such as chromium, cobalt, molybdenum, and titanium.

Astronomy and geology[edit]

Iron and nickel are the most abundant elements produced during the final stage of stellar nucleosynthesis in massive stars. Heavier elements require other forms of nucleosynthesis, such as during a supernova or neutron star merger.[1][2] Iron and nickel are the most abundant metals in metallic meteorites[3] and in the dense metal cores of telluric planets, such as Earth.

Nickel–iron alloys occur naturally on Earth's surface as telluric iron or meteoric iron.

Chemistry and metallurgy[edit]

The affinity of nickel atoms (atomic number 28) for iron (atomic number 26) results in natural occurring alloys and a large number of commercial alloys. The surfaces of these metallic compounds provide a complex electron environment for catalyzing chemical reactions.[4]

In steel metallurgy, nickel is alloyed with iron to produce maraging steel and some low-alloy steels. Other technological uses include Invar and Mu-metal.

Alloy summary[edit]

The following table is an overview of different iron–nickel alloys. Naturally occurring alloys are a type of mineral and called native elements or native metals. Some of the entries have more than one crystal structure (e.g. meteoric iron is a mixture of two crystal structures).

Name Description Chemical formula / Weight percent nickel
Antitaenite An intermetallic compound found in meteorites[5] Fe3Ni
Awaruite A native intermetallic compound found in serpentinites and meteorites Ni2Fe to Ni3Fe
Earth's core Earth's core is composed of an iron–nickel alloy[6] about 5.5% Ni
Elinvar A manufactured alloy whose elasticity does not change with temperature; 5% Cr 36% Ni
Invar A steel manufactured to have a very low thermal expansion 36% Ni
Kamacite A native metal found in meteoric iron Fe[0.9]Ni[0.1]
Maraging steel A strong, malleable variant of steel 15–25% Ni
Meteoric iron A native combination of mostly kamacite and taenite, and minor amounts of tetrataenite, antitaenite, and awaruite 5–30% Ni
Mu-metal An alloy manufactured to be highly permeable to magnetism 77% Ni
Planetary core Planets, moons, and planetesimals can have cores of various iron–nickel alloys various
Stainless steel A variant of steel manufactured to be corrosion-resistant, with Cr as well as Ni 4–8% Ni
Taenite A native metal found in meteorites NiFe
Telluric iron A native metal found on Earth (distinct from extraterrestrial irons) 0.05%–4% Ni
Tetrataenite A native metal found in meteorites FeNi

In popular culture[edit]

Video games[edit]

NiFe plays a major role in the story-line of the 2022 play-to-earn (P2E) “WAGMI” video game[7] and corresponding ERC20 cryptocurrency. The game scenario centers around humans defending the Earth from aliens who are determined to extract the NiFe from its core.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wannier, P.G. (1980). "Nuclear abundances and evolution of the interstellar medium". Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics. 18: 399–437. Bibcode:1980ARA&A..18..399W. doi:10.1146/annurev.aa.18.090180.002151.
  2. ^ Johnson, Jennifer A. (2019). "Populating the periodic table: Nucleosynthesis of the elements". Science. 363 (6426): 474–478. Bibcode:2019Sci...363..474J. doi:10.1126/science.aau9540. PMID 30705182. S2CID 59565697.
  3. ^ Mason, Brian Harold (1971). Handbook of Elemental Abundances in Meteorites. New York, NY: Gordon and Breach. ISBN 0-677-14950-6.
  4. ^ Pardo, A.; de Lacey, A.L.; Fernández, V.M.; Fan, H.J.; Fan, Y.; Hall, M.B. (2006). "Density functional study of the catalytic cycle of nickel-iron NiFe hydrogenases and the involvement of high-spin nickel(II)". Journal of Biological Inorganic Chemistry. 11 (3): 286–306. doi:10.1007/s00775-005-0076-3. PMID 16511689. S2CID 37683443.
  5. ^ "Antitaenite". MinDat. Keswick, VA: Hudson Institute of Mineralogy. Retrieved 31 December 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ Lin, Jung-Fu (1 January 2002). "Iron-Nickel alloy in the Earth's core". Geophysical Research Letters. 29 (10): 109‑1 – 109‑3. Bibcode:2002GeoRL..29.1471L. doi:10.1029/2002GL015089.
  7. ^ a b ""WAGMI" – The battle cry to save Earth". WAGMI ( Retrieved 7 December 2021.