Cobalt is a metal discovered in ancient times. Throughout history, it’s been used for jewelry, as a paint and a glass tint because of its distinctive blue hue. Its name is derived from German miners who called it kobold or goblin ore because of its dangerous arsenic fumes when it was smelted.
Mined from the earth’s crust cobalt is reduced to a hard silver-grey lustrous metal used in many industrial products. This metal has an extremely high melting point of 1495℃. Its ferromagnetic properties make it an ideal raw material for the manufacture of magnets. It is ductile and conducts electricity easily.
The Democratic Republic of Congo together with Zambia produce more than fifty percent of the world’s cobalt supply. Industrially produced cobalt comes as a byproduct of nickel production. This provides more than fifty-five percent of Cobalt production in the world, making cobalt a common mineral.
Cobalt is, however, a very important metal that straddles many industrial applications, from space engineering to smartphone production, from animal nutrition to radiology and nuclear reactors. Its use is found in day to day electronic items like microphones, loudspeakers, and laptops. Because of its extreme heat resistant capabilities, it’s an important alloy in the production of space vehicles and rocket engines.
Because of different uses, it’s an important element in many types of alloys used to manufacture diverse and different products. These alloys come in two types, soft alloys used to produce products like lithium batteries and hard grade alloys used to manufacture extreme components like rocket engines.
Here are 50 unique uses of Cobalt:
1. Making Magnets
An alloy of Cobalt aluminum and nickel makes powerful magnets used for different types of industrial and in the use of day to day products.
2. Jet Turbines
Cobalt superalloys can withstand intense heat and are structurally strong. They are used in manufacturing jet turbines.
When an electric current is charged through dissolved metals it electroplates an electrode. Nickel added to cobalt creates a strong electroplating solution used to electroplate iron.
4. Coloring Ceramics and Pottery
Cobalt has a brilliant blue color that is attractive on many compounds and works of art it is used mostly to colour porcelain, ceramics, and glass.
5. Treating Cancer
Cobalt is used as a therapy in the treatment of cancerous tumours. Radioisotope cobalt – 60 is used to produce a gamma rays beam that is directed at the tumour to kill its tissues.
6. Moveable Jet Engine Parts
The tensile strength of cobalt alloys and its heat resistant capabilities make it ideal in the manufacture of moveable jet engine parts that must operate under extreme conditions.
7. Manufacturing Car Batteries
Car batteries are made from cathode material derived from cobalt. Cobalt is used to manufacture most Li-ion car batteries used to power electrical systems in the car and to run electric cars.
8. Glass and Ceramics
Glass and ceramics are beatified by the blue and green hue found in Cobalt.
9. Super Alloys
Nickel iron and cobalt are used to make superalloys a group of metals that are resistant to extreme temperatures and yet strong enough to withstand severe physical conditions. They make good material for manufacturing aerospace components. These alloys have important characteristics:
- They are heat resistant
- Are corrosive resistant
- Are Resistant to metallic fatigue
10. Gas turbines
Combustion chambers and vanes in gas turbines have to withstand extreme temperatures while under operation. Cobalt alloys are used in casting their precision parts.
11. Space vehicles
Space vehicles when breaking free from the Atmosphere endure intense heat and extreme pressure, their structure and many other components including combustions chambers, tubings, fuel nozzles, pumps, etc. have to be made from high-quality cobalt-based metal alloys.
12. Rocket motors
Rockets deliver payloads into space. They have to be fired to produce maximum lift and attain the required velocity to enter into space. The rocket’s motors have propellant tanks loaded with fuel. These propellant tanks are made from cobalt alloys and are strong enough to withstand mechanical forces working against the rocket during lift.
13. Nuclear reactors
Neutron Activation of cobalt is used to produce an isotope of cobalt called radiocobalts. Cobalt go is used to manufacture structural elements of nuclear reactors.
14. Power plants
Most Power plants are constructed from cobalt-based alloys to withstand corrosion, internal conversion cobalt alloys to operate efficiently.
15. Chemical equipment
Cobalt is used as a dying agent in chemical factories because of its blue coloration. It’s used to dye paints and inks.
16. Stellite Alloys
Stellite alloys named after their founder Elood Stellite are made from chromium and cobalt. They are used as an alloy matrix because of their resistance to corrosion They form carbides during solidification
17. Tristelle Alloys
Tristelle alloys are stainless that contain cobalt, iron-nickel, and silicon. They are abrasion-resistant and protect from wear and tear of cavitational erosion.
18. Tribaloy Alloys
Tribaloy is a cobalt alloy whose properties make them ideal for use in the hard metallic tough matrix they are resistant to high temperature are strong and do not easily wear and tear and corrosion they are mostly used in making components operated where there’s very little lubrication.
Cobalt Molybdenum and Chromium are used to make orthopedic implants used in the manufacture of prosthetics because they are highly biocompatible, are strong yet wear-resistant and are not corroded by body fluids. Their most important property is that they are malleable and can mirror molded to mirror the mechanical properties of the body part they are replacing.
20. Soft Magnets
Soft semi-hard magnets are permeable and used in soft alloys they are made from vanadium, iron, and cobalt. They have a high saturation point. Their magnetic properties cannot be altered under temperatures that are less than 500oC
Aluminum Nickel cobalt is a unique alloy used to make magnets for sensors and switches. Cobalt significantly improves the properties and helps to make stronger, more powerful magnets.
22. Magnetic Resonance imaging
Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI as it is popularly known is an imaging technology that uses radiology to form pictures of the body organs, It is a non-invasive scanning of the body using radio waves and gradient magnetic fields. Cobalt magnetic alloys are used to beam the radiation because they provide stable output.
23. Samarium-cobalt magnets
Samarium Cobalt alloys are used to make magnets that have improved and led to greater innovation of electronic gadgets, motors, and telephones. They are produced through a sintering process.
Neodymium iron boron and cobalt make powerful magnets that have strong magnetic fields. This strong magnetic energy is important in the manufacture of efficient motor disc drives.
25. Electric Cars
Cobalt serves as a cathode, the main component in the manufacture of Li-ion batteries used to power electric cars. Cobalt peaks the performance of the batteries in maintaining power for longer.
26. Medical Sterilization
Cobalt – 60 is a radioactive element that emits gamma and beta rays used in sterilizing surgical equipment it is used as a radiotracer isotope.
The radioactive elements in Cobalt – 60 are used to produce gamma rays a common source of radiation used in radiotherapy.
28. Animal Feeds
Grazing Animals with cobalt nutritional deficiency need supplements. Cobalt chloride and nitrate or acetate have essential Vitamin B12. Ruminant animal’s cows, goats, and sheep need cobalamin an essential enzyme in their feeds.
29. Detection of tumours
Gamma rays produced by cobalt radioisotope-60 used in cobalt therapy are used to beam rays directed in affected areas of a patient’s body to detect tumours
30. Imaging the brain
Cobalt is used in tomography as cobalt-55 an isotope that has calcium tracer which can image affected parts of the brain and show injured parts of the brain. It is therefore important in diagnosing abnormalities in moderate brain injury.
In biochemistry, cobalt has several uses. Cobalt – 57 is a source of spot markers used in nuclear medicine for the treatment of ailments like thyroid scintigraphy. Cobalt produced rays are also used as a bio knife, and cobalt – 60 is also used as a common isotope used in the schilling test used to find out Vitamin B 12 deficiency.
32. Corrosion and Catalysis
Cobalt is used in catalyst research, a process that seeks to develop targets that can push tracer studies. It is also important to the research of metal dusting corrosion.
33. Tungsten carbide
Tungsten carbide is a compound that contains carbon atoms. Cobalt is used as a binder metal to increase resistance to wear making harder and tougher tungsten carbide.
34. Metal rollers
Metal rollers are used to reduce the metallic thickness and to create uniformity in metals. Cobalt-based nickel alloys have more power than steel and are ideal for manufacturing metal rollers.
35. Engine components.
Engine internal combustion components in automotive, aerospace and general engineering engines undergo stress and have to withstand extreme temperature, components like fuel injectors in aircraft engines use cobalt-based superalloys and can be subjected to performance stress at high temperatures without breaking down.
36. Ceramic pigments
Enamels and glazed pottery look beautiful when stained with the blue pigment found in cobalt. Oxides are mixed with cobalt and other minerals and then ground into a fine powder that is used in the decoration of different ceramics.
37. Hearing Aids
Cobalt-based alloy is used in the manufacture of biomedical hearing implants that assist in strengthening the hearing capacity of the eardrum.
Magnetic resonance Microphones made from cobalt alloys have strong polar pattern and smooth feedback and powerful acoustic isolation and rejection.
The military uses hundreds of equipment and weapons made from cobalt. Start with fighter planes. Fighter planes operate under extreme conditions. Cobalt alloys are critical in their manufacture. Powerful military communication equipment relies on cobalt alloy magnets to resonate and receive frequencies.
40. Cobalt magnets in Sensors
Cobalt oxide makes an important nanotube film. It’s made through precipitation oxidation to create a strong structure composed of sensing film to check out levels of gases in the atmosphere. The film changes its resistance when it absorbs CO gas.
41. Cobalt magnets loudspeakers
The ferromagnetic properties in cobalt make it ideal for manufacturing alloy magnets used in loudspeakers, in earphones, and amplifiers. The electromagnetic field together with a cobalt-based magnet produces vibrations that amplify the sound.
42. Cobalt magnets electric motors
Nickel iron and cobalt create iron-cobalt alloys important in manufacturing efficient electric motors that significantly reduce magnetic losses while increasing their rotating speed.
Instruments in Many industrial applications for example thickness gauges, and levelling devices are manufactured from cobalt- 60 because of its radiography radiation it is used to detect structural flaws in metallic components.
Smartphones use lithium rechargeable batteries made from cobalt which is used to manufacture cathode a lithium-ion. The lithium-Ion in the battery when charged releases ions from the cathode to the anode where they are stored and released to power the phone.
Laptops use lithium rechargeable batteries made from cobalt which is used to manufacture cathode a lithium-ion. The lithium-Ion in the battery when charged releases ions from the cathode to the anode where they are stored and released to power the laptop.
Cameras use lithium rechargeable batteries made from cobalt which is used to manufacture cathode a lithium-ion. The lithium-Ion in the battery when charged releases ions from the cathode to the anode where they are stored. They are released when the Camera is in operation.
47. Portable Electronics
All portable electronics including lamps and hand-held tools are powered by lithium-ion rechargeable batteries made from cobalt alloys.
48. Catalysts in refining crude oil
Cobalt and molybdenum are used in Cleaning of Petroleum as a catalyst for hydrodesulfurization that is cleaning petroleum off sulphur impurities.
49. Platinum Jewelry
Cobalt is used as an alloy in platinum Jeweler. When mixed with platinum It creates a malleable alloy perfect for casting and creates slightly magnetic Jewelry.
50. Paint Pigment
Cobalt is a natural pigment for paints, varnishes, and can be used as a drying agent when oxidized in the paints.
Cobalt is an important metal in the manufacture and production of machinery, equipment, electronics, and industrial instruments. Cobalt’s use spans into the future, as an alloy in space exploration its tensile properties are just being discovered.