Cobalt is a ferromagnetic metal and it is not found naturally in its pure form but in its compounds are found in most rocks ,soil, plants and animals. Due to its weakly reducing nature it is used mostly in oxidation.
What is cobalt Ore
Cobalt is a weakly reducing metal that is protected from oxidation by a passivating oxide film. It is attacked by halogens and sulfur. Heating in oxygen produces Co3O4 which loses oxygen at 900 °C to give the monoxide CoO. The metal reacts with F2 at 520 K to give CoF3, with Cl2, Br2 and I2, the corresponding binary halides were formed. It has no reaction with H2 and N2 even when heated, but it does react with boron, carbon, phosphorus, arsenic and sulphur. At ordinary temperatures, it reacts slowly with mineral acids, and very slowly with moist, but not dry, air.
Its Uses and Consumption
Lithium cobalt oxide is used as an electrode in lithium batteries. Rechargeable NiMH batteries also contain some cobalt.
Paints, varnishes and inks can be made with cobalt if a certain color is needed. It may be possible to create a nuclear bomb using cobalt-59. The blast would be very small but the area would be contaminated with radioactive waste for some time.
Cobalt-60 is used in medicine as it produces gamma rays. These are used in radiotherapy, sterilizing medical supplies and waste, sterilizing food and measuring the density of an object. Cobalt-57 is also used in medicine. It can be used to work out how much vitamin B12 is being taken in by the human body. The ground coats for porcelain enamels are made from cobalt.
Some jewelery and cutlery are electroplated (coated) with cobalt as it is hard and resistant to oxidation.
Since cobalt does not exist on its own there are different methods that are used to separate it from copper and nickel depending on the concentration of cobalt and the exact composition of the ore used.
When it is being extracted from copper the ores are treated by a sulfatizing roast in a fluidized bed furnace to convert copper and cobalt sulfides into soluble oxides and iron into soluble hematite. When being separated from nickel sulfide concentrates it can be treated by either roasting of flash melting to reduce matte from which nickel and cobalt can be recovered hydrometallurgically. apart from these two concentrates it is also separated from other ore like arsenide ores, and laterite and then it is purified either by electrolysis or other methods.
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