Periodic Table -> Cobalt


Cobalt Details

Cobalt Symbol: Co

Cobalt Atomic Number: 27

Cobalt Atomic Weight: 58.993

What is Cobalt?

Cobalt (symbol Co, number 27) is a chemical element occurring naturally only in a combined compound form. When isolated, it is a silver-gray, lustrous, hard metal. It is used quite effectively as a blue pigment and has been used this way since antiquity for jewelry and other decorative items, to give glass a blue tinge, and more. Eventually, it emerged that the metal bismuth had this function. This metal is also known as goblin ore (German) because of the blue color it produced and because it gives off poisonous fumes upon smelting. The new metal, to which these ores were found to be reducible, came to be known as cobalt. Today, this substance is derived from different metallic-luster ores, but it is mainly a by-product of copper and nickel extraction. Most cobalt that is mined in the world comes from Zambia and Congo. The element is also produced as a byproduct of the extraction and refining of lead, silver, iron, copper, and nickel.

Cobalt is an element, without which animals cannot function. It is vital for their biological survival, health, and growth. Cobalt is also an important nutrient for bacteria, algae, and fungi. This element is the center of vitamin B12 (thiamine). Drastic deficiency of this enzyme results in Korsakoff’s syndrome, which strikes people with severe drinking problems. The condition is also known as Korsakoff’s psychosis, Korsakoff’s dementia, and amnesic-confabulatory syndrome. Its onset is associated with severe malnutrition, alcohol abuse, eating disorders, prolonged vomiting, or the effects of chemotherapy. Cobalt deficiency, which is a rate condition, can be potentially lethal. It may lead to pernicious anemia while excessive levels of cobalt may cause death.

Cobalt poisoning is a form of intoxication whereby cobalt reaches excessive levels in the body. Cobalt is used mostly as a metal in alloys with low wear-and-tear properties and high strength. It is also used often in magnetic alloys. Alloys are solid solutions consisting of two elements or more. Cobalt blue (cobalt aluminate) is used to color glass, ink, varnish, paint, smalt and ceramics. A radioactive isotope of cobalt, cobalt-60, is used as a radioactive tracer. This means it can measure the speed of chemical processes and track the movement of a substance through a cell or tissue, making it very useful in medicine and medical technology. It is also used to produce gamma rays.

Alnico is an alloy made of cobalt, nickel, and aluminum, used in the production of powerful, permanent magnets. Alloys which contain cobalt are also used to manufacture magnetic steels, gas turbines, jet engines, and some kinds of stainless steel. Stellite alloys with tungsten, chromium, and cobalt are used to make high-temperature and high-speed cutting tools.

The element is mostly used in alloys, batteries, as a catalyst, and in pigments and coloring. An oxide of the metal, lithium cobalt oxide, is often used in the production of lithium ion battery cathodes.

Several combined chemical forms containing cobalt are used as oxidation catalysts. Some typical catalysts include cobalt soap, known officially as cobalt carboxylate. These substances are also used to improve the adhesion of the steel to rubber in tires. These catalysts are also used in reactions involving carbon monoxide, hydrogen production, hydrogenation of carbon monoxide into liquid fuels, hydroformylation of alkenes, hydrodesulfurization of petroleum, and more.

Cobalt-57 is a radioactive isotope of the element commonly used in medical tests.

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