Cobalt is one of the transition metals with ferromagnetic properties; it is a metal with a metallic gray color in its natural solid state. Cobalt has an atomic weight of 58.933195, a melting point of 2723 °F, and a boiling point of 5301 °F. Some common uses of cobalt include: as a component in metallic alloys for high speed steels, as a component in super-alloys for turbine aircraft engine parts, as a component in magnetic recording devices, and as a component in electroplating.
Cobalt is never found freely in nature, and there are isolation procedures that are used to isolate cobalt from mineral ores.
Cobalt is generally isolated from byproducts in copper, nickel, and lead production. The major ores that contain cobalt is cobaltite, erythrite, glaucodot, and skutterudite. In the process which results in isolation of cobalt, the mineral ore is first heated to form a mixture of metals and their metal oxides. The addition of sulphuric acid to the mixture causes copper to come out of the mixture as a residue, and iron, cobalt, and nickel form their sulphates. The addition of sodium hypochlorite to the resulting mixture causes cobalt to precipitate out in a trihydroxide form. The trihydroxide of cobalt is then heated to form cobalt oxide and water. In the final step of isolation, the cobalt is reduced with carbon in the form of charcoal resulting in pure cobalt and carbon dioxide.
The isolation procedures of cobalt are very rarely performed in a laboratory as the process is highly inefficient and pure cobalt is available commercially.
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