Automakers and tech firms scramble for the once little-known element cobalt, essential for iPhones, laptops and electric cars
Demand for batteries in everything from smartphones to electric cars has driven up the price of the once obscure element cobalt, fueling fears of a shortage. Prices for the metal, which is essential in making lithium-ion batteries, more than doubled in 2017 over the previous year, according to the United States Geological Survey. Researchers haven't yet found a good substitute or way to build batteries without the mineral.
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