We all have cobalt inside our bodies as part of vitamin B12, an integral compound for red blood cell formation and neurological health in humans. Classified by the EU and the US as a Critical Raw Material, cobalt is recognized as an important technology-enabling metal where energy storage, high temperature resilience, hardness, process efficiency and environmental benefits are required.
Cobalt is used in the electronic devices and batteries that power our digital world, forming part of the circuitry and the semi-conductors in computers and phones.
As we move towards a zero-emissions future, demand for rechargeable batteries and energy storage is increasing hugely to help decarbonise transport and integrate renewable energy into national electricity grids. Cobalt is an essential component in the cathodes of Lithium-ion batteries.
In the petro-chemical industry, the unique properties of cobalt mean that it is essential in catalysts to remove sulphur, nitrous oxide and other impurities from crude oil allowed better fuel quality minimizing greenhouse gas emissions.
Base industry also utilises the advantages that cobalt can bring to the hard metal industry where hard-wearing metals and alloys allow manufacturers to produce highly effective cutting and grinding tools, suitable for a broad range of industrial and manufacturing applications
The high temperature resistance, hardness and wear characteristics of cobalt when alloyed with other metals are put to good use in superalloys for gas turbines and as hard surfacing in critical applications where working environments are aggressive (hot, pressurised and/or acidic). By improving wear and durability, operating efficiency can be increased by extending operating life and reducing friction.
Thanks to its magnetic properties, cobalt is used in a range of magnetic applications related to wind turbines, hard disks drives, motors, sensors, actuators and magnetic resonance imagery
In addition to IRM scanners, Cobalt is used in other medical applications including radiotherapy and prosthesis for hip and knee replacement and tooth implants
In its application for blue pigments for glassware and ceramics, Cobalt has been used for at least 2,600 years, dating back to Ancient Egypt, and cobalt blue is still used for decoration today.