Cobalt compounds used
Cobalt oxide, cobalt hydroxide, cobalt metal.
- Portable devices - Mobile phones, laptops, tablets, cutting tools
- E-mobility - Electric vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles, electric trains, electric bikes
- Stationary - Renewable energy power stations and home storage, ancillary services to electrical grid
Roughly 50% of the cobalt produced globally is found in rechargeable batteries, also referred to as secondary batteries, a vital technology for a sustainable future.
Rechargeable batteries are electro-chemical devices that convert chemical energy into electrical energy.
During discharge, electrons move from the negative anode to the positive cathode, providing a source of power. The battery is recharged by replenishing the anode with electrons to its reduced state, as well as removing the electrons from the cathode returning it to its oxidised state. The cathode structure is a matrix, often formed of cobalt oxide, which provides support for Ni/Li cations.
The large role cobalt plays in cathode technology is, in part, why the EU and the USA class cobalt as a critical raw material.
The lithium-ion battery is the most commonly used type of battery with cobalt being found in the cathode. Cobalt is also important in other battery technologies such as nickel-cadmium batteries (NiCd) and nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries. As new technologies are created with a higher current and a longer run-time, the production of the older technologies decreases.
The ability to reuse rechargeable batteries, along with increasing recycling rates, contributes towards a green circular economy.