Nickel, periodic table Ni, is a metal that is useful as a catalyst and in alloys. It is solid at room temperatures, and has a silver color. Nickel is naturally alloyed with iron in meteoric iron. Nickel has a cosmic abundance similar to that of iron and should be readily available on Mars.
Catalyst in Chemical Reactions
Nickel can be used as a catalyst in the following reactions:
Nickel is used in certain battery formulations, that may play a role for energy storage in a Martian settlement. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter uses two nickel-hydrogen batteries. Mariner 8, and Mariner 9, and Mariner 10, as well as both Voyager landers used nickel-cadmium batteries. Another battery type with nickel is the nickel–iron battery, which is very robust and durable, making it a good candidate for a stationary energy storage in a Martian settlement.
Most stainless steels include some proportion of Nickel, often 8-10%.
High strength alloys
Nickel is the main element in high strength alloys such as Inconel, than can include from 40 to 70% nickel by mass. In these alloys, chromium is the second component and iron comes in third at 3-11%. Inconel has excellent heat and corrosion resistance characteristics and is used in the aerospace industry, such as the manifold of the SpaceX Raptor engines.
Hastelloy-N is a tough, corrosion resistant nickel alloy used in nuclear reactors.