What is cobalt?
Cobalt is an element from the periodic table of elements that falls into the ninth column of the table.
Cobalt is considered a transition metal due to its location on the periodic table and some of its properties as a metal.
Properties of Cobalt
The atomic symbol for cobalt is Co. Atoms of cobalt are known to have 27 protons, 27 electrons, and 32 neutrons. Cobalt primarily appears as a hard, breakable metal that looks blue and white in color.
Cobalt’s atomic number is 27, of course, and its atomic weight is 58.93.
At room temperature, cobalt is a solid, and its melting point is very high at 1495 degrees Celsius.
Cobalt also has magnetic properties, and continues retain these magnetic properties even when heated to very high temperatures.
Cobalt is only very minorly reactive, and any reaction that it has from being exposed to oxygen occurs very slowly.
Compounds can be formed in the combinations of cobalt and other elements, leading to cobalt oxide, cobalt fluoride, and cobalt sulfide.
Because the melting point of cobalt is so high and has little to no reaction to oxygen, it is considered to be very stable at even very high temperatures.
In general, cobalt is resistant to corrosion, rust, and other damage.
Interestingly, cobalt is also important in the survival of living organisms. The human body, along with other animal bodies, use naturally-occurring cobalt to create important chemicals in the body, such as enzymes.
Cobalt is one component of the well-known, important vitamin B12.
Cobalt was discovered by George Brandt in the year 1735. It is not generally found freely around the planet Earth, but it can be mined from various other minerals and rock from the Earth’s outer crust.
Most of cobalt mining is done on the African continent, and these mining efforts tend to include the mining of nickel, iron, copper, lead, and silver as well.
Mined cobalt is used as a dye for blue coloring in various ink, paint, ceramic and glasswork, and sometimes cosmetic products.
Ancient Chinese and Roman glass- and ceramic-making techniques often used to include compounds of cobalt.
Because of cobalt’s magnetic properties, it can also be used in the creation and production of batteries, magnets, and other industrial equipment.
More facts about cobalt
Cobalt was the first metal to be discovered after the development of civilization, after the prehistoric era.
It was the first metal to be discovered that occurred recently enough in history that we know the name of the person that discovered it.
This means that it was discovered after modern language was invented, so that the information (such as the name of the discoverer) could be written down.
Compound cobalt-60 is used in the production of radioactive emissions used in chemotherapy to help treat cancer and used in the cleaning and sterilizing process of medical tools.
However, there are also small traces of cobalt that can be found in some types of fertilizers.
Most Western countries have their supplies of cobalt imported, as it is primarily mined in Africa.
Fun Quiz Time!
- Where is cobalt mostly found?
- What color is most associated with cobalt?
- Who discovered cobalt?
- What is the atomic number of cobalt?
- What was a primary use of cobalt in ancient civilizations?
- Africa, or in the Earth’s crust
- Blue, or blue-white
- George Brandt
- Glass- and ceramic-making