The well-known tendency of cobalt to be retained by the iron-alumina precipitate produced by ammonia has generally been ascribed to a specific adsorption by the large surface of this gelatinous precipitate. Whatever its cause, it can be overcome by precipitating the iron as phosphate at a pH of 3.5. The precipitate is easily filterable and practically all the cobalt passes into the filtrate.
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Use of phosphate for separation of cobalt from iron