Industrial Application and Extraction Process of Cobalt

Cobalt is a desired small metal resource, with the chemical element symbol Co. It is a silver colored ferromagnetic material metal, with a silver white to slightly pale pink surface, and is located in the fourth cycle. Its key physical and chemical parameters are similar to those of iron and nickel, and it belongs to the iron group element.

The consumption tracks of cobalt worldwide include rechargeable batteries, heat-resistant alloys, hard alloys, catalysts, permanent magnet materials, ceramic glaze and its desiccants, adhesives, etc. The global consumption of cobalt increased from 49000 tons in 2004 to 109000 tons in 2017, with an average annual growth rate of 6.37%. Overall, before 2005, heat-resistant alloys had always been a major consumer market for cobalt products. Since 2005, with the rapid development of lithium-ion batteries, rechargeable batteries have replaced heat-resistant alloys as a major consumer market for cobalt products. At present, in the global consumer market, the demand for cobalt in rechargeable batteries accounts for over 59%, followed by heat-resistant alloys and hard alloys, accounting for about 15% and 7% respectively. From the perspective of the Chinese market, the consumption is usually rechargeable batteries, accounting for up to 77.4%. At present, the demand for cobalt in lithium-ion batteries for new energy vehicles is showing a rapid growth trend, and the improvement in industries such as non ferrous alloys has been maintained for a long time.

Cobalt is not only used in industrial applications as a main raw material for heat-resistant alloys, hard alloys, anti-corrosion alloys, magnetic alloys, and various cobalt salts and pigments. In the field of medicine, it is also one of the main components of vitamin B12 synthesis in the intestines of herbivores.

At present, the extraction process of cobalt is mainly divided into pyrometallurgy and hydrometallurgy. The pyrometallurgical process requires a large scale of operation to obtain cobalt, while the wet process is more flexible and suitable for various scales. Therefore, although pyrometallurgical processing technology has certain characteristics, wet metallurgical processing technology has more prominent advantages compared to pyrometallurgical processing technology, which is also an important reason why new companies around the world commonly use wet process for processing in recent years. Nowadays, in China, almost all cobalt manufacturing enterprises have chosen the wet process, as more advanced smelting and processing processes are being used, and the production capacity of cobalt is gradually shifting to China.

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