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cobalt phosphate is a compound of the metal cobalt and the organic molecule phosphorus. It is used in dyeing fabrics and as a pigment in painting. Cobalt compounds are also used in batteries and as catalysts.
Cobalt is one of only three naturally occurring magnetic metals (the others are iron and nickel). It forms many different compounds, the most common being sulfate salts, chloride salts, and nitrate salts. In these compounds cobalt usually has the +2 oxidation state. It does not combine directly with hydrogen or nitrogen, but it will combine with carbon, phosphorus, and sulfur. It reacts with oxygen and water vapour at elevated temperatures to form cobaltous oxide, CoO (with the metal in the +2 state).
Compounds of cobalt have been used since 1400 b.c. They were first used to color glass and pottery blue. In 1735 Swedish chemist Georg Brandt (1694–1768) analyzed a dark blue pigment from copper ore and showed that it contained a new element, which he named cobalt. His research indicated that cobalt compounds were a deeper blue than copper compounds and that they had properties different from those of the other metals.
Cobalt is found in rocks, soil, and living animals. It is a trace mineral that the human body needs in very small amounts to function. Animals need it to make enzymes that function as catalysts to speed up changes that occur in living cells. For example, it is needed for making the natural vitamin B-12 that is essential to healthy bodies. Without adequate levels of B-12, humans cannot produce enough red blood cells to meet the needs of the body.