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Cobalt


Cobalt Properties:

It is a lustrous, silvery-white metal with a faint bluish tinge. The metal is ferromagnetic up to 1121°C (2050°F) but is also one of three metals that are ferromagnetic at room temperature. This material, like Iron, can be magnetized, and is used where magnetic properties are needed at very elevated temperatures. It is alloyed with Aluminium and Nickel to make particularly powerful magnets.

It is attacked by Oxygen and by water vapour at elevated temperatures, dissolves slowly in dilute mineral acids, does not combine directly with either Hydrogen or Nitrogen, but will combine, on heating, with Carbon, Phosphorus, or Sulfur.

Cobalt Applications:

The most crucial applications of this material generally involve its alloys. A relatively large percentage of this materials global production is directed to magnetic alloys such as AlNiCo for permanent magnets. Other Cobalt alloys retain their properties at high temperatures, while some of this material is directed to superalloys which are used near their melting points (where steels would become too soft).

The metal is also used to create a number of different high-performance alloys including hard-facing alloys, tool steels, low-expansion alloys, and constant-modulus (elastic) alloys. In addition to their magnetic properties, Cobalt alloys are known for being corrosion- and wear-resistant, making them suitable for gas turbine generators, aircraft engines and other applications that require high-temperature strength.

Natural Cobalt consists of a stable isotope, Cobalt-59, from which the longest-lived artificial radioactive isotope Cobalt-60 is produced. This isotope – Cobalt-60 – is used in cancer therapy (as a tracer and for radiotherapy), in sterilization studies, and in biology and other industries as a radioactive tracer. Gamma radiation from Cobalt-60 has been used frequently in place of X-rays or alpha rays from Radium, for the inspection of industrial materials to reveal their internal structure, flaws, or the presence of foreign objects. In some countries, this radioactive isotope is also used to irradiate food in order to preserve it.

Cobalt-based cathode technology has been vital to sustainable technologies, including electric transport and renewable energy storage. Meanwhile, the metal is used a binder in cemented carbides, an essential material for the hard-metal industry.

Art and Design:

This material is often used in electroplating because its hardness and resistance to corrosion lend an attractive appearance to the substrate material. Similarly, Cobalt-Chrome alloys are used in orthopedic and dental implants due to their biocompatibility and high corrosion and wear resistance. A more familiar application is the use of Cobalt for centuries to produce brilliant blue colouring in inks and pigments for paint, porcelain, glass, pottery and enamels.

Sources:

Though it is widely dispersed, it makes up only 0.001 percent of Earth’s crust. It is found in trace quantities in terrestrial and meteoritic native Nickel-Iron, and in combination with other elements in natural waters, in ferromanganese crusts deep in the oceans, in soils, and in minerals such as cobaltite, linnaeite, skutterudite, smaltite, heterogenite, and erythrite. With few exceptions, Cobalt ore is not usually mined for its Cobalt content; instead the metal is recovered as a byproduct from the mining of other ores such as Iron, Nickel, Copper, SilverManganeseZinc, and Arsenic. Complex processing is required to concentrate and extract Cobalt from these ores.

This metal can be further processed into various shapes, including lumps, foils, microfoils, powders, rods, single crystals, sputtering targets and wire.

Properties

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Attacked by oxygen and by water vapour at elevated
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Corrosion resistant
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Dissolves slowly in dilute mineral acids
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Ferromagnetic
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Magnetic
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Radioactive