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History and Future of Cobalt

The History and Future of Cobalt

Cobalt is a chemical element with the symbol Co and atomic number 27. It is found in the Earth’s crust as an ore and has been used by humans since ancient times. This article will explore cobalt’s history, where it was first discovered, how it got its name, and what cobalt’s future looks like.

What is Cobalt?

Cobalt is a metallic element that has the symbol Co and atomic number 27. It is found in various compounds, but most commonly in cobalt oxide (CoO). Cobalt is used in a variety of industrial and military applications, including in the production of batteries, magnets, and pigments.

History of Cobalt

Cobalt was first discovered in 1735 by Swedish chemist Georg Brandt in the mineral cobaltite (CoAsS). He showed that this mineral contained a new element that had not been seen before. Soon after, cobalt began to be used for coloring glass and ceramics and producing various alloys.

How Was Cobalt Discovered?

Cobalt was discovered by accident when Brandt dissolved a sample of cobaltite in acid and noticed that the solution changed color when exposed to oxygen. This led him to conclude that a new element must have been present in the sample. He named it “cobalt” after the German word kobold, which means “goblin” or “evil spirit” due to its mysterious nature at the time.

Where is Cobalt Found?

Cobalt is found in a variety of minerals, but the most common source is cobaltite (CoAsS). Other sources include erythrite (Co3(AsO4)2), glaucodot (FeCo3S4), and skutterudite (CoAs3). Cobalt is also found in trace amounts in meteorites.

How is Cobalt Produced?

Cobalt is produced via two primary methods: mining and recycling. Mining is the most common method of production, accounting for over 80% of global cobalt production. The majority of cobalt mines are located in Africa, with the Democratic Republic of Congo accounting for the lion’s share of production. Recycling is the second-most common method of production and typically involves extracting cobalt from used batteries or other products.

History of Cobalt Use

The history of cobalt use dates back thousands of years. Early uses were primarily for pigment production, as cobalt compounds tend to be very colorful. For example, Egyptian blue, one of the first synthetic pigments ever created, contains cobalt oxide (CoO). In more recent history, cobalt has been increasingly used for industrial purposes due to its unique properties

Future of Cobalt

Today, cobalt is still being used for coloring glass and ceramics as well as being used in batteries for phones and laptops. With advances in technology, demand for cobalt will likely increase over time as more applications are developed using this versatile element. Additionally, research is being conducted into potential medical uses of cobalt, such as cancer treatments.

  • The future of cobalt is in jeopardy due to the high demand for electric vehicles.
  • Cobalt is a key ingredient in lithium-ion batteries, and the demand for these batteries is expected to increase in the coming years.
  • Most of the world’s cobalt is produced in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where there are concerns about child labor and human rights abuses.
  • There are also environmental concerns about cobalt mining, as it can lead to water pollution and soil contamination.
  • Given all of these concerns, it is important to find ways to recycle cobalt and reduce our reliance on this metal.


Cobalt is an important chemical element with many uses both today and potentially in the future. Its discovery happened almost by chance when Swedish chemist Georg Brandt noticed a color change when he dissolved a sample of cobaltite in acid. Since then, cobalt has been used for various applications from coloring glass to powering our phones to potentially treating cancer one day. The future looks bright for this versatile element!

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