Cobalt is a chemical element with the symbol Co and atomic number 27. It is a by-product of copper and nickel mining.
The physico-chemical properties of cobalt allow for a hard wearing, wear-resistant metal with unique valency properties. These qualities make it unsubstitutable in a number of key sustainable and strategic applications.
The metal is rarely used as a structural material in the pure form but almost always as an alloy or a component of another system.
It was not until the 1730s that Swedish chemist George Brandt purified and identified cobalt, then another 50 years until Torbern Bergman verified Brandt’s new element.
What’s in a name?
Several centuries ago, miners in Germany struggled melting down certain ores for useful metals such as silver and copper.
They were exposed to poisonous fumes released from the rock which they blamed on the kobolds — underground sprites of local folklore. Though the vapors actually arose from the arsenic also contained in the ores, when chemists later extracted cobalt from these minerals, the name stuck.