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Cobalt - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cobalt

Cobalt
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cobalt is a chemical element with symbol Co and atomic number 27. Like nickel, cobalt
in the Earth's crust is found only in chemically combined form, save for small deposits
found in alloys of natural meteoric iron. The free element, produced by reductive
smelting, is a hard, lustrous, silver-gray metal.

Cobalt,

Cobalt-based blue pigments (cobalt blue) have been used since ancient times for
jewelry and paints, and to impart a distinctive blue tint to glass, but the color was later
thought by alchemists to be due to the known metal bismuth. Miners had long used the
name kobold ore (German for goblin ore) for some of the blue-pigment producing
minerals; they were so named because they were poor in known metals, and gave
poisonous arsenic-containing fumes upon smelting. In 1735, such ores were found to be
reducible to a new metal (the first discovered since ancient times), and this was
ultimately named for the kobold.
Today, some cobalt is produced specifically from various metallic-lustered ores, for
example cobaltite (CoAsS), but the main source of the element is as a by-product of
copper and nickel mining. The copper belt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,
Central African Republic and Zambia yields most of the cobalt mined worldwide.

27Co

electrolytically refined cobalt chips


General properties
Name, symbol

cobalt, Co

Appearance

hard lustrous gray metal


/koblt/

Pronunciation

KOH-bolt

Cobalt in the periodic table

Cobalt is primarily used as the metal, in the preparation of magnetic, wear-resistant and
high-strength alloys. Its compounds cobalt silicate and cobalt(II) aluminate (CoAl 2O4,
cobalt blue) give a distinctive deep blue color to glass, ceramics, inks, paints and
varnishes. Cobalt occurs naturally as only one stable isotope, cobalt-59. Cobalt-60 is a
commercially important radioisotope, used as a radioactive tracer and for the production
of high energy gamma rays.
Cobalt is the active center of coenzymes called cobalamins, the most common example
of which is vitamin B12. As such it is an essential trace dietary mineral for all animals.
Cobalt in inorganic form is also an active nutrient for bacteria, algae and fungi.

Contents
1 Characteristics
2 Compounds
2.1 Oxygen and chalcogen compounds
2.2 Halides
2.3 Coordination compounds
2.4 Organometallic compounds
3 Isotopes
4 History
5 Occurrence
6 Production
7 Applications
7.1 Alloys
7.2 Batteries
7.3 Catalysts
7.4 Pigments and coloring
7.5 Radioisotopes
7.6 Other uses
8 Biological role
9 Precautions
10 References
11 External links

Characteristics
Cobalt is a ferromagnetic metal with a specific gravity
of 8.9. The Curie temperature is 1,115 C
(2,039 F)[3] and the magnetic moment is 1.61.7
Bohr magnetons per atom.[4] Cobalt has a relative
permeability two-thirds that of iron.[5] Metallic cobalt
occurs as two crystallographic structures: hcp and
fcc. The ideal transition temperature between the
hcp and fcc structures is 450 C (842 F), but in
practice, the energy difference is so small that
random intergrowth of the two is common.[6][7][8]
A block of electrolytically refined
cobalt (99.9% purity) cut from a
large plate

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
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produces
Co O which loses oxygen at 900 C

Co

Rh

iron cobalt nickel

Atomic number (Z)

27

Group, block

group 9, d-block

Period

period 4
transition metal

Element category
Standard atomic
weight () (Ar)

58.933194(4)[1]

Electron
configuration

[Ar] 3d7 4s2

per shell

2, 8, 15, 2
Physical properties

Color

metallic gray

Phase

solid

Melting point

1768 K (1495 C, 2723 F)

Boiling point

3200 K (2927 C, 5301 F)

Density near r.t.

8.90 g/cm3

when liquid, at m.p.

8.86 g/cm3

Heat of fusion

16.06 kJ/mol

Heat of
vaporization

377 kJ/mol

Molar heat
capacity

24.81 J/(molK)
vapor pressure

P (Pa)

10

100

1k

10 k

100 k

at T (K) 1790 1960 2165 2423 2755 3198


Atomic properties
Oxidation states

3, 1, +1, +2, +3, +4, +5[2]


(an amphoteric oxide)

Electronegativity

Pauling scale: 1.88

Ionization
energies

1st: 760.4 kJ/mol


2nd: 1648 kJ/mol
3rd: 3232 kJ/mol
(more)

Atomic radius

empirical: 125 pm

Covalent radius

Low spin: 1263 pm


High spin: 1507 pm
Miscellanea

Crystal structure

hexagonal close-packed
(hcp)

Speed of sound
thin rod

4720 m/s (at 20 C)

Thermal

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13.0 m/(mK) (at 25 C)

Cobalt - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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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
(1,650 F) to give the monoxide CoO.[9] The metal reacts with fluorine (F2) at 520 K to
give CoF3; with chlorine (Cl2), bromine (Br2) and iodine (I2), the corresponding binary
halides are formed. It does not react with hydrogen gas (H2) or nitrogen gas (N2) even
when heated, but it does react with boron, carbon, phosphorus, arsenic and sulfur.[10] At
ordinary temperatures, it reacts slowly with mineral acids, and very slowly with moist, but
not with dry, air.

Speed of sound
thin rod

4720 m/s (at 20 C)

Thermal
expansion

13.0 m/(mK) (at 25 C)

Thermal
conductivity

100 W/(mK)

Electrical
resistivity

62.4 nm (at 20 C)

Magnetic ordering

ferromagnetic

Young's modulus

209 GPa

Compounds

Shear modulus

75 GPa

Bulk modulus

180 GPa

Common oxidation states of cobalt include +2 and +3, although compounds with
oxidation states ranging from 3 to +4 are also known. A common oxidation state for
simple compounds is +2 (cobalt(II)). These salts form the pink-colored metal aquo

Poisson ratio

0.31

Mohs hardness

5.0

Vickers hardness

1043 MPa

Brinell hardness

4703000 MPa

CAS Number

7440-48-4

cobalt (99.9% purity) cut from a


large plate

2
complex [Co(H2O)6]2+ in water. Addition of chloride gives the intensely blue [CoCl4] .[2]

Oxygen and chalcogen compounds

History

Several oxides of cobalt are known. Green cobalt(II) oxide (CoO) has rocksalt structure.
It is readily oxidized with water and oxygen to brown cobalt(III) hydroxide (Co(OH)3). At
temperatures of 600700 C, CoO oxidizes to the blue cobalt(II,III) oxide (Co3O4), which
has a spinel structure.[2] Black cobalt(III) oxide (Co2O3) is also known.[11] Cobalt oxides
are antiferromagnetic at low temperature: CoO (Nel temperature 291 K) and Co3O4
(Nel temperature: 40 K), which is analogous to magnetite (Fe3O4), with a mixture of +2
and +3 oxidation states.[12]
The principal chalcogenides of cobalt include the black cobalt(II) sulfides, CoS2, which
adopts a pyrite-like structure, and cobalt(III) sulfide (Co2S3).

Georg Brandt (1732)

Discovery

Most stable isotopes of cobalt


iso

NA

half-life

56Co

syn

77.27 d

4.566

56Fe

57Co

syn

271.79 d

0.836

57Fe

58Co

syn

70.86 d

2.307

58Fe

59Co

100%

60Co

syn

59Co

DM

DE (MeV)

DP

is stable with 32 neutrons

5.2714 y , 2.824

60Ni

Halides
Four dihalides of cobalt(II) are known: cobalt(II) fluoride (CoF2, pink), cobalt(II) chloride (CoCl 2, blue),
cobalt(II) bromide (CoBr2, green), cobalt(II) iodide (CoI2, blue-black). These halides exist in
anhydrous and hydrated forms. Whereas the anhydrous dichloride is blue, the hydrate is red.[13]
The reduction potential for the reaction
3+

Co

2+

+ e Co

is +1.92 V, beyond that for chlorine to chloride, +1.36 V. As a consequence cobalt(III) and chloride
would result in the cobalt(III) being reduced to cobalt(II). Because the reduction potential for fluorine
to fluoride is so high, +2.87 V, cobalt(III) fluoride is one of the few simple stable cobalt(III) compounds.
Cobalt(III) fluoride, which is used in some fluorination reactions, reacts vigorously with water.[9]
Cobalt(II) chloride hexahydrate

Coordination compounds
As for all metals, molecular compounds and polyatomic ions of cobalt are classified as coordination complexes, that is molecules or ions
that contain cobalt linked to several ligands. The principles of electronegativity and hardnesssoftness of a series of ligands can be used
to explain the usual oxidation state of the cobalt. For example, Co+3 complexes tend to have ammine ligands. As phosphorus is softer
than nitrogen, phosphine ligands tend to feature the softer Co2+ and Co+, an example being tris(triphenylphosphine)cobalt(I) chloride
((P(C6H5)3)3CoCl). The more electronegative (and harder) oxide and fluoride can stabilize Co4+ and Co5+ derivatives, e.g. caesium
hexafluorocobaltate (Cs2CoF6) and potassium percobaltate (K3CoO4).[9]
Alfred Werner, a Nobel-prize winning pioneer in coordination chemistry, worked with compounds of empirical formula [Co(NH3)6]Cl 3. One
of the isomers determined was cobalt(III) hexammine chloride. This coordination complex, a "typical" Werner-type complex, consists of a
central cobalt atom coordinated by six ammine ligands orthogonal to each other and three chloride counteranions. Using chelating
ethylenediamine ligands in place of ammonia gives tris(ethylenediamine)cobalt(III) chloride ([Co(en)3]Cl 3), which was one of the first
coordination complexes that was resolved into optical isomers. The complex exists as both either right- or left-handed forms of a "threebladed propeller". This complex was first isolated by Werner as yellow-gold needle-like crystals.[14][15]

Organometallic compounds
Cobaltocene is a structural analog to ferrocene, where cobalt substitutes for iron. Cobaltocene is sensitive to oxidation, much more than
ferrocene.[16] Cobalt carbonyl (Co2(CO)8) is a catalyst in carbonylation and hydrosilylation reactions.[17] Vitamin B12 (see below) is an
organometallic compound found in nature and is the only vitamin to contain a metal atom.[18]

Isotopes
59Co

is the only stable cobalt isotope and the only isotope to exist naturally on Earth. 22 radioisotopes have been characterized with the
most stable being 60Co with a half-life of 5.2714 years, 57Co with a half-life of 271.8 days, 56Co with a half-life of 77.27 days, and 58Co
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with a half-life
of 70.86Pro
days.
of the remaining
radioactive isotopes have half-lives that are shorter than 18 hours, and the majority
of
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59Co

is the only stable cobalt isotope and the only isotope to exist naturally on Earth. 22 radioisotopes have been characterized with the
most stable being 60Co with a half-life of 5.2714 years, 57Co with a half-life of 271.8 days, 56Co with a half-life of 77.27 days, and 58Co
with a half-life of 70.86 days. All of the remaining radioactive isotopes have half-lives that are shorter than 18 hours, and the majority of
these are shorter than 1 second. This element also has 4 meta states, all of which have half-lives shorter than 15 minutes.[19]
The isotopes of cobalt range in atomic weight from 50 u (50Co) to 73 u (73Co). The primary decay mode for isotopes with atomic mass
unit values less than that of the most abundant stable isotope, 59Co, is electron capture and the primary mode of decay for those of
greater than 59 atomic mass units is beta decay. The primary decay products before 59Co are element 26 (iron) isotopes and the primary
products after are element 28 (nickel) isotopes.[19]

History
Cobalt compounds have been used for centuries to impart a rich blue color to glass, glazes and ceramics.
Cobalt has been detected in Egyptian sculpture and Persian jewelry from the third millennium BC, in the
ruins of Pompeii (destroyed in 79 AD), and in China dating from the Tang dynasty (618907 AD) and the
Ming dynasty (13681644 AD).[20]
Cobalt has been used to color glass since the Bronze Age. The excavation of the Uluburun shipwreck
yielded an ingot of blue glass, which was cast during the 14th century BC.[21][22] Blue glass items from
Egypt are colored with copper, iron, or cobalt. The oldest cobalt-colored glass was from the time of the
Eighteenth dynasty in Egypt (15501292 BC). The location where the cobalt compounds were obtained is
unknown.[23][24]
Early Chinese blue and
white porcelain,
manufactured circa 1335

The word cobalt is derived from the German kobalt, from kobold meaning "goblin", a superstitious term used
for the ore of cobalt by miners. The first attempts at smelting these ores to produce metals such as copper
or nickel failed, yielding simply powder (cobalt(II) oxide) instead. Also, because the primary ores of cobalt
always contain arsenic, smelting the ore oxidized the arsenic content into the highly toxic and volatile arsenic
oxide, which also decreased the reputation of the ore for the miners.[25]

Swedish chemist Georg Brandt (16941768) is credited with discovering cobalt circa 1735, showing it to be a new previously unknown
element different from bismuth and other traditional metals, and calling it a new "semi-metal."[26][27] He was able to show that
compounds of cobalt metal were the source of the blue color in glass, which previously had been attributed to the bismuth found with
cobalt. Cobalt became the first metal to be discovered since the pre-historical period, during which all the known metals (iron, copper,
silver, gold, zinc, mercury, tin, lead and bismuth) had no recorded discoverers.[28]
During the 19th century, a significant part of the world's production of cobalt blue (a dye made with cobalt compounds and alumina) and
smalt (cobalt glass powdered for use for pigment purposes in ceramics and painting) was carried out at the Norwegian Blaafarvevrket.
[29][30] The first mines for the production of smalt in the 16th to 18th century were located in Norway, Sweden, Saxony and Hungary. With
the discovery of cobalt ore in New Caledonia in 1864 the mining of cobalt in Europe declined. With the discovery of ore deposits in
Ontario, Canada in 1904 and the discovery of even larger deposits in the Katanga Province in the Congo in 1914 the mining operations
shifted again.[25] With the Shaba conflict starting in 1978, the main source for cobalt, the copper mines of Katanga Province, nearly
stopped their production.[31][32] The impact on the world cobalt economy from this conflict was however smaller than expected. Cobalt
being a rare metal and the pigment being highly toxic, the industry had already established effective ways for recycling cobalt materials
and in some cases was able to change to cobalt-free alternatives.[31][32]
In 1938, John Livingood and Glenn T. Seaborg discovered the radioisotope cobalt-60.[33] This isotope was famously used at Columbia
University in the 1950s to establish parity violation in radioactive beta decay.[34][35]
After World War II, the US wanted to be sure it was never short of the ore needed for military cobalt uses (as the Germans had been
during that war) and explored for cobalt within the U.S. border. A good supply of the ore needed was found in Idaho near Blackbird
canyon in the side of a mountain. The firm Calera Mining Company got production started at the site.[36]

Occurrence
The stable form of cobalt is created in supernovas via the r-process.[37] It comprises 0.0029% of the Earth's crust and is one of the first
transition metals.
Free cobalt (the native metal) is not found in on Earth due to the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere and chlorine in the ocean. Oxygen
and chlorine are abundant enough in the upper layers of the Earth's crust so as to make native metal cobalt formation extremely rare.
Except as recently delivered in meteoric iron, pure cobalt in native metal form is unknown on Earth (see below). Though the element is of
medium abundance, natural compounds of cobalt are numerous. Small amounts of cobalt compounds are found in most rocks, soil,
plants, and animals.
In nature, cobalt is frequently associated with nickel, and both are characteristic components of meteoric iron, though cobalt is much less
abundant in iron meteorites than nickel. As with nickel, cobalt in meteoric iron alloys may have been well enough protected from oxygen
and moisture to occur as the free metal,[38] a state which otherwise is not seen with either element in the ancient terrestrial crust.
Cobalt in compound form occurs as a minor component of copper and nickel minerals. It is the major metallic component in combination
with sulfur and arsenic in the sulfidic cobaltite (CoAsS), safflorite (CoAs2), glaucodot ((Co,Fe)AsS), and skutterudite (CoAs3) minerals.[9]
The mineral cattierite is similar to pyrite and occurs together with vaesite in the copper deposits of the Katanga Province.[39] Upon
contact with the atmosphere, weathering occurs and the sulfide minerals oxidize to form pink erythrite ("cobalt glance":
Co3(AsO4)28H2O) and spherocobaltite (CoCO3).[40][41]

Production
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Co3(AsO4)28H2O) and spherocobaltite (CoCO3).

Production
The main ores of cobalt are cobaltite, erythrite, glaucodot and
skutterudite (see above), but most cobalt is obtained not by active mining
of cobalt ores, but rather by reducing cobalt compounds that occur as
by-products of nickel and copper mining activities.[42][43]
In 2005, the copper deposits in the Katanga Province (former Shaba
province) of the Democratic Republic of the Congo were the top producer
of cobalt with almost 40% world share, reports the British Geological
Survey.[44] The political situation in the Congo influences the price of
cobalt significantly.[45]
The Mukondo Mountain project, operated by the Central African Mining
and Exploration Company in Katanga, may be the richest cobalt reserve
in the world. It is estimated to be able to produce about one third of total
Cobalt ore
global production of cobalt in 2008.[46] In July 2009 CAMEC announced a
long term agreement under which CAMEC would deliver its entire annual
production of cobalt in concentrate from Mukondo Mountain to Zhejiang Galico Cobalt & Nickel
Materials of China.[47]

Cobalt output in 2005

World production trend

Several methods exist for the separation of cobalt from copper and nickel. They depend on the concentration of cobalt and the exact
composition of the used ore. One separation step involves froth flotation, in which surfactants bind to different ore components, leading
to an enrichment of cobalt ores. Subsequent roasting converts the ores to the cobalt sulfate, whereas the copper and the iron are
oxidized to the oxide. The leaching with water extracts the sulfate together with the arsenates. The residues are further leached with
sulfuric acid yielding a solution of copper sulfate. Cobalt can also be leached from the slag of the copper smelter.[48]
The products of the above-mentioned processes are transformed into the cobalt oxide (Co3O4). This oxide is reduced to the metal by the
aluminothermic reaction or reduction with carbon in a blast furnace.[9]
Activists have alleged that child labor is being used in some African countries to mine a portion of the worldwide supply of cobalt.[49]

Applications
The main application of cobalt is as the free metal, in production of certain high performance alloys.[42][43]

Alloys
Cobalt-based superalloys consume most of the produced cobalt.[42][43] The temperature stability of these alloys makes them suitable for
use in turbine blades for gas turbines and jet aircraft engines, though nickel-based single crystal alloys surpass them in this regard.[50]
Cobalt-based alloys are also corrosion and wear-resistant. This makes them useful in the medical field, where cobalt is often used (along
with titanium) for orthopedic implants that do not wear down over time. The development of the wear-resistant cobalt alloys started in the
first decade of the 19th century with the stellite alloys, which are cobalt-chromium alloys with varying tungsten and carbon content. The
formation of chromium and tungsten carbides makes them very hard and wear resistant.[51] Special cobalt-chromium-molybdenum alloys
like Vitallium are used for prosthetic parts such as hip and knee replacements.[52] Cobalt alloys are also used for dental prosthetics,
where they are useful to avoid allergies to nickel.[53] Some high speed steel drill bits also use cobalt to increase heat and
wear-resistance. The special alloys of aluminium, nickel, cobalt and iron, known as Alnico, and of samarium and cobalt (samarium-cobalt
magnet) are used in permanent magnets.[54] It is also alloyed with 95% platinum for jewelry purposes, yielding an alloy that is suitable
for fine detailed casting and is also slightly magnetic.[55]

Batteries
Lithium cobalt oxide (LiCoO2) is widely used in lithium ion battery cathodes. The material is composed of cobalt oxide layers in which the
lithium is intercalated. During discharging the lithium intercalated between the layers is set free as lithium ion.[56] Nickel-cadmium[57]
(NiCd) and nickel metal hydride[58] (NiMH) batteries also contain significant amounts of cobalt; the cobalt improves the oxidation
capabilities of nickel in the battery.[57]

Catalysts
Several cobalt compounds are used in chemical reactions as oxidation catalysts. Cobalt acetate is used for the conversion of xylene to
terephthalic acid, the precursor to the bulk polymer polyethylene terephthalate. Typical catalysts are the cobalt carboxylates (known as
cobalt soaps). They are also used in paints, varnishes, and inks as "drying agents" through the oxidation of drying oils.[56] The same
carboxylates are used to improve the adhesion of the steel to rubber in steel-belted radial tires.
Cobalt-based catalysts are also important in reactions involving carbon monoxide. Steam reforming, useful in hydrogen production, uses
cobalt oxide-base catalysts. Cobalt is also a catalyst in the FischerTropsch process, used in the hydrogenation of carbon monoxide into
liquid fuels.[59] The hydroformylation of alkenes often rely on cobalt octacarbonyl as the catalyst,[60] although such processes have been
partially displaced by more efficient iridium- and rhodium-based catalysts, e.g. the Cativa process.
The hydrodesulfurization of petroleum uses a catalyst derived from cobalt and molybdenum. This process helps to rid petroleum of
sulfur impurities that interfere with the refining of liquid fuels.[56]
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The hydrodesulfurization of petroleum uses a catalyst derived from cobalt and molybdenum. This process helps to rid petroleum of
sulfur impurities that interfere with the refining of liquid fuels.[56]

Pigments and coloring


Before the 19th century, the predominant use of cobalt was as a pigment. Since the
Middle Ages, it has been involved in the production of smalt, a blue colored glass.
Smalt is produced by melting a mixture of the roasted mineral smaltite, quartz and
potassium carbonate, yielding a dark blue silicate glass which is ground after the
production.[61] Smalt was widely used for the coloration of glass and as pigment for
paintings.[62] In 1780, Sven Rinman discovered cobalt green and in 1802 Louis
Cobalt blue glass
Jacques Thnard discovered cobalt blue.[63] Cobalt pigments, such as cobalt blue
(cobalt aluminate), cerulean blue (cobalt(II) stannate), various hues of cobalt green (a
mixture of cobalt(II) oxide and zinc oxide), and cobalt violet (cobalt phosphate) are used as artist's pigments
because of their superior stability.[64][65] Aureolin (cobalt yellow) is now largely replaced by more lightfast yellow
pigments.

Radioisotopes

Cobalt-colored glass

Cobalt-60 (Co-60 or 60Co) is useful as a gamma ray source because it can be produced in predictable quantity
and high activity by bombarding cobalt with neutrons. It produces two gamma rays with energies of 1.17 and
1.33 MeV.[19][66]

Its uses include external beam radiotherapy, sterilization of medical supplies and medical waste, radiation treatment of foods for
sterilization (cold pasteurization),[67] industrial radiography (e.g. weld integrity radiographs), density measurements (e.g. concrete
density measurements), and tank fill height switches. The metal has the unfortunate habit of producing a fine dust, causing problems
with radiation protection. Cobalt from radiotherapy machines has been a serious hazard when not disposed of properly, and one of the
worst radiation contamination accidents in North America occurred in 1984, after a discarded radiotherapy unit containing cobalt-60 was
mistakenly disassembled in a junkyard in Juarez, Mexico.[68][69]
Cobalt-60 has a radioactive half-life of 5.27 years. This decrease in activity requires periodic replacement of the sources used in
radiotherapy and is one reason why cobalt machines have been largely replaced by linear accelerators in modern radiation therapy.[70]
Cobalt-57 (Co-57 or 57Co) is a cobalt radioisotope most often used in medical tests, as a radiolabel for vitamin B12 uptake, and for the
Schilling test. Cobalt-57 is used as a source in Mssbauer spectroscopy and is one of several possible sources in X-ray fluorescence
devices.[71][72]
Nuclear weapon designs could intentionally incorporate 59Co, some of which would be activated in a nuclear explosion to produce 60Co.
The 60Co, dispersed as nuclear fallout, creates what is sometimes called a cobalt bomb.[73]

Other uses
Other uses of cobalt are in electroplating, owing to its attractive appearance, hardness and resistance to oxidation,[74] and as ground
coats for porcelain enamels.[75]

Biological role
Cobalt is essential to all animals. It is a key constituent of cobalamin, also known as vitamin B12, which is the
primary biological reservoir of cobalt as an "ultratrace" element.[76][77] Bacteria in the guts of ruminant
animals convert cobalt salts into vitamin B12, a compound which can only be produced by bacteria or
archaea. The minimum presence of cobalt in soils therefore markedly improves the health of grazing
animals, and an uptake of 0.20 mg/kg a day is recommended for them, as they can obtain vitamin B12 in no
other way.[78]
In the early 20th century during the development for farming of the North Island Volcanic Plateau of New
Zealand, cattle suffered from what was termed "bush sickness". It was discovered that the volcanic soils
lacked cobalt salts, which was necessary for cattle.[79] The ailment was cured by adding small amounts of
cobalt to fertilizers in the form of Superphosphate (at the time derived from Canadian sources).
In the 1930s "coast disease" of sheep in the Ninety Mile Desert of the Southeast of South Australia was
found to be due to nutrient deficiencies of the trace elements cobalt and copper. The cobalt deficiency was
overcome by the development of "cobalt bullets", dense pellets of cobalt oxide mixed with clay, which are
orally inserted to lodge in the animal's rumen.[80]

Cobalamin

Non-ruminant herbivores produce vitamin B12 from bacteria in their colons which again make the
vitamin from simple cobalt salts. However the vitamin cannot be absorbed from the colon, and thus
non-ruminants must ingest feces to obtain the nutrient. Animals that do not follow these methods of
getting vitamin B12 from their own gastrointestinal bacteria or that of other animals, must obtain the
vitamin pre-made in other animal products in their diet, and they cannot benefit from ingesting simple
cobalt salts.
The cobalamin-based proteins use corrin to hold the cobalt. Coenzyme B12 features a reactive C-Co
bond, which participates in its reactions.[81] In humans, B12 exists with two types of alkyl ligand:
methyl and adenosyl. MeB12 promotes methyl (-CH3) group transfers. The adenosyl version of B12
5 6 catalyzes rearrangements in which a hydrogen atom is directly transferred between two adjacent
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bond, which participates in its reactions.[81] In humans, B12 exists with two types of alkyl ligand:
methyl and adenosyl. MeB12 promotes methyl (-CH3) group transfers. The adenosyl version of B12
catalyzes rearrangements in which a hydrogen atom is directly transferred between two adjacent
atoms with concomitant exchange of the second substituent, X, which may be a carbon atom with
substituents, an oxygen atom of an alcohol, or an amine. Methylmalonyl coenzyme A mutase (MUT)
converts MMl-CoA to Su-CoA, an important step in the extraction of energy from proteins and fats.[82]

Cobalt deficient sheep

Although far less common than other metalloproteins (e.g. those of zinc and iron), cobaltoproteins are known aside from B12. These
proteins include methionine aminopeptidase 2 an enzyme that occurs in humans and other mammals which does not use the corrin ring
of B12, but binds cobalt directly. Another non-corrin cobalt enzyme is nitrile hydratase, an enzyme in bacteria that are able to metabolize
nitriles.[83]

Precautions
Cobalt is an essential element for life in minute amounts. The LD50 value for soluble cobalt salts has
been estimated to be between 150 and 500 mg/kg. Thus, for a 100 kg person the LD50 for a single
dose would be about 20 grams.[84] In the US, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration
(OSHA) has designated a permissible exposure limit (PEL) in the workplace as a time-weighted
average (TWA) of 0.1 mg/m3. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has
set a recommended exposure limit (REL) of 0.05 mg/m3, time-weighted average. The IDLH
(immediately dangerous to life and health) value is 20 mg/m3.[85]
However, chronic cobalt ingestion has caused serious health problems at doses far less than the
lethal dose. In 1966, the addition of cobalt compounds to stabilize beer foam in Canada led to a
peculiar form of toxin-induced cardiomyopathy, which came to be known as beer drinker's
cardiomyopathy.[86][87]

Patch test

After nickel and chromium, cobalt is a major cause of contact dermatitis.[88]


Cobalt can be effectively absorbed by charred pigs bones; however this process is inhibited by copper and zinc; which have greater
affinities to bone char.[89]

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