It turns out to play a role in lithium batteries
Cobalt was discovered in 1739 by Swedish chemist Georg Brandt. It is a hard, shiny silver-gray metal that is extracted as a by-product in the mining of nickel and copper. In addition to being used as a cathode material for many lithium-ion batteries, cobalt is also used to make powerful magnets, high-speed cutting tools, and high-strength alloys for jet engines and gas turbines. For centuries, cobalt compounds have been used for the coloring of porcelain, glass, pottery, tiles and enamel; as part of vitamin B12, it is also important in human nutrition.
The figure below shows the breakdown of cobalt consumption.
Cobalt is mainly recovered as a by-product from the production of copper and nickel. The high cost induces battery manufacturers to seek alternatives, but cobalt cannot be completely eliminated. Since it is mainly a by-product of copper and nickel production, the pricing meets the needs of these major metals. As in 2015, this may lead to an oversupply of cobalt. The price of cobalt rose in 2010. With the increase in demand for large-scale lithium-ion batteries, it is expected that the price of cobalt will rebound. Even if the price drops, the price of a ton of high-grade cobalt is around 28,000 US dollars. In comparison, a ton of lithium carbonate (estimated 2015 price) is $6,000. Lithium carbonate is a crystalline salt that is also used in the glass and ceramic industries and medicine. According to the British Geological Survey (2014), the Democratic Republic of Congo accounts for 50% of global cobalt production; China, Canada, Australia and Russia are also major contributors. Cobalt in developing countries is often mined under the living conditions of adults and low-income children.
Xiaoge reminds everyone that cobalt is a basic element of health, but it also has side effects, which can cause heart problems, impaired vision and cancer. Contact with cobalt can occur through ingestion, inhalation of cobalt-contaminated air or through continuous skin contact. The wear of some cobalt/chromium metal on metal hip implants has also been reported as cobalt poisoning. Therefore, everyone must pay attention to safety, and the rational use of cobalt is the first cathode material for commercial lithium-ion batteries, but the high price induces manufacturers to substitute this material. Cobalt mixed with nickel, manganese, and aluminum produces a powerful cathode material that is more economical and provides enhanced performance for pure cobalt. Reusing cobalt by recycling lithium-ion batteries was only partially successful because of the improvements required to bring the material back to the battery level. As the world has sufficient reserves, there should be no shortage of cobalt.Related information: A brief analysis of the element reaction formula in the structure of lithium batteries How to extract pure lithium from lithium batteries?