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Cobalt Applications

First applications of Cobalt

Cobalt has not hitherto been utilised to any important extent in the industries, but Canada is making systematic efforts to develop its utility in view of the fact that rich stores of cobalt ores are found in that country. A few years ago practically the only use for cobalt was the production of the blue colour in the glass and ceramic industries, and for the production of a blue paint. For these industries an annual production of 300 or 400 tons of cobalt sufficed.

Two important fields suggest themselves as offering useful possibilities for the future, namely, electroplating and currency. The former of these is discussed in the next section. With regard to the latter it has been pointed out that a five-cent piece made of cobalt would possess many advantages for Canadian currency. Being very hard it would be difficult to counterfeit, while its attractive colour and resistance to tarnishing would distinguish it from all other coins.

Several compounds of cobalt are of considerable importance, chief amongst which are zaffre, smalt, and cobalt blue. Accounts of these are given in the sequel. Certain organic derivatives of cobalt, such as the rosinate, oleate, linoleate, and tungate, find commercial application as "driers" in the paint and varnish industry. The acetate and oxide also exert an appreciable drying action.

Owing to their change of colour under varying conditions of hydration, cobalt salts have long been used in the preparation of sympathetic inks.


Cobalt is used mainly in production of various alloys. It increases hot-resistance of steel, its strength and other properties. Cobalt is used in magnets and in magnetic recording media (low-coercive materials) as well as in materials of electromagnet cores, transformers etc. Hard-magnetic alloy such as samarium-cobalt magnets, are used in instrument engineering.

In permanent magnets are used alloys which contain 52% cobalt and 5-14% vanadium and chromium. Cobalt and some of its compounds are also used as Catalysts for the petroleum and chemical industries and pigments (cobalt blue and cobalt green).

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