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Uses of Cobalt

Some time ago I wrote about who discovered cobalt. Today, I am going to tell you some of the more common uses of cobalt in the world today!

Uses of Cobalt

  • 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.
  • Cobalt is usually added to alloys to create what are known as ‘superalloys’. These alloys have a stable temperature so are widely used in jet engines and gas turbines. These alloys are also used in prosthetic hips and knees when replacements are needed. Some false teeth are made using cobalt to avoid nickel allergies. Permanent magnets are also made from cobalt alloys.
  • Several compounds of cobalt are very important in industry as they act as catalysts, speeding up important chemical reactions. Liquid fuels and polymers are two things that are obtained through the use of cobalt catalysts.
  • 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.

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