Cobalt and lithium are often referred to as “energy metals”. They are the primary constituents, along with graphite, of lithium-ion batteries, the fastest growing segment of the battery market. There is a lot of hype in this space, however, demand growth is strong and expected to continue. Graphite and lithium have been hot sectors, but there has been little excitement about cobalt. This metal could be next.
The Uluburun Shipwreck was discovered off the east coast of Turkey, near Kaş, in 1982. It has been dated to the late 14th Century BC. Among other cargo, it was carrying a number of ingots of cobalt blue glass. This is the earliest known use of cobalt compounds. It has been used worldwide for millennia to produce a very intense, deep blue colour. The metal itself is thought to have been discovered by Swede Georg Brandt in 1735.
Cobalt is a silvery grey hard, brittle metal that lies between iron and nickel on the periodic table, and has similar properties to those metals. It melts at 1495oC and boils at 2927oC. It oxidizes in the air to form a protective oxide film that protects it from further oxidation. It can be magnetized and reacts slowly with dilute acids.