Cobalt is part of the elements of the periodic table, its atomic number is 27, it is located in group 9 and is represented by the symbol Co. In the Middle Ages it was called kobold by miners because they believed that this metal had no value and they thought that a good leprechaun, similarly named, was placing it as a replacement for the stolen money.
Cobalt is defined as a ferromagnetic metal, its tint is bluish white, its Curie temperature is equal to 1388 degrees Kelvin. It is usually found with nickel, both elements being part of iron meteorites. This chemical element is extremely important to mammals in small amounts.
The cobalt radioisotope, Co-60, is an important agent and tracer in the treatment of cancer. Cobalt metal normally consists of a mixture of two allotropic forms that have face-centered cubic and hexagonal crystal structures, having a transition temperature of 722 degrees Kelvin between them.
Uses of Cobalt
- In magnetic tapes and in magnets such as fernico, alnico, cunico and cunife.
- In superalloys used in aeronautical gas turbines. Alloys resistant to high speed steels, corrosion, diamond tools and cemented carbides. It is also used in cutting tools in milling machine manufacturing procedures.
- In metallic coatings used in electrolytic deposition according to their hardness, appearance and resistance to oxidation.
- In the chemical industry and in petroleum catalysis.
- To cover the base of vitrified enamels.
- For drying varnishes, paints and inks
- Cobalt green and cobalt blue are used in pigments.
- On steel cables made from tires.
- Co-60 is used in radiotherapy as a source of gamma radiation, in industrial radiography to control the quality of metals and detect cracks, and in cold pasteurization for the sterilization of food.
- In electrodes that have electric batteries.
Electron configuration of cobalt
The full electron configuration of cobalt is 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 3d7 4s2 while its abbreviated or simplified version is written as follows: [Ar] 3d7 4s2.
Basic Characteristics of Cobalt
It is mainly used in high performance superalloys. These are generally more expensive than nickel. This metal is intended to be alloyed with zinc and nickel.
These metals are normally added to other base metals, but when cobalt exerts this action, it is usually associated with chromium alloys. Its main characteristic is its high resistance and hardness to wear. Normally they are rarely used alloys because their virtue does not compensate for the large amount of fertilizer that exists for them.
Cobalt has very similar characteristics to its close neighbors like nickel and iron. With these it has a greater number of similar characteristics than with elements belonging to the same group in the periodic table. Neither nickel nor cobalt mixes with mercury or silver. They also share the remarkable magnetic effect of iron.
Cobalt is the rarest metal of the three, the most expensive and the least profitable. There is little utility in the cobalt industry compared to its neighbors. It is one of the few chemical elements known to be monoisotopic. Cobalt has a low minimum resistance. It has greater stability than iron because it can be maintained in water and air as long as it is not located with corrosive elements in these media.
Biological function of cobalt
Cobalt is important in all animals, including humans. This element constitutes vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin. Absence or deficiency of cobalt can develop anemia.
Despite this, secondary anemia caused by cobalt deficiency is very unusual because by consuming trace amounts of this element, proper homeostasis can be maintained. Cobalt is also an element present in different animals, therefore a deficiency due to low intake is almost unlikely.
Cobalamin-based proteins use the corrin ring to maintain the cobalt bond. Coenzyme B12 benefits the C-Co bond, this is part of the reactions.
Precautions after using Cobalt
Finely divided powdered cobalt metal has flammable characteristics. In general, cobalt compounds should be handled very carefully due to the mild toxicity of this metal.
Co-60 is radioactive, exposure to its radiation can cause cancer. The ingestion of Co-60 has the consequence of accumulating a certain quantity in the tissues and it is eliminated very slowly.