Copper Facts

Copper the Metal

Copper Facts 1

Copper is a mineral and an element essential to our everyday lives. It is a major industrial metal because of its high ductility, malleability, thermal and electrical conductivity and resistance to corrosion. It is an essential nutrient in our daily diet. And, its antimicrobial property is becoming increasingly important to the prevention of infection.

Copper Facts 2

Copper is element number 29 on the Periodic Table of Elements. It is considered a semi-precious, nonferrous, malleable metal with many hundreds of applications in the areas of electricity and electronics, plumbing, building construction and architecture, industry, transportation, and consumer and health products.

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Pure copper’s melting point is 1,981°F (1,083°C, 1356°K). Its most important properties include superior heat transfer, electrical conductivity and corrosion resistance.

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Copper is easily alloyed with other metals. Currently, there are more than 570 copper alloys listed.

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Brasses and Bronzes are probably the most well-known families of copper-base alloys. Brasses are mainly copper and zinc. Bronzes are mainly copper along with alloying elements such as tin, aluminium, silicon or beryllium.

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A leaded yellow brass, C36000, also known as Copper Alloy 360 is so easy to machine, it is the benchmark standard for metals machinability.

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Because of its ease of manufacture, machining and corrosion resistance, brass became the standard alloy from which were made all accurate instruments such as clocks, watches and navigational aids. Rust-free brass pins used in wool making were an early and a very important product, as was the manufacture of gold-coloured decorative products.

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Bronze is harder than pure iron and far more resistant to corrosion. Bronze is also harder than pure copper, so the Egyptians used it for weapons, armour, tools and, most famously, sculptures. It is particularly well suited for sculpture because it expands when heated (filling the nooks and crannies of a mould), then contracts as it cools so the sculpture is easy to remove from the mould.

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Bell metal, which sounds so beautiful when struck, is a bronze containing about 20-25 percent tin. Statuary bronze is technically a brass with a tin content of less than 10 percent and an admixture of zinc and lead.

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Other copper alloy families include copper-nickels and copper-nickel-zincs, often referred to as nickel silvers, along with many other specialty alloys.

Copper in History

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Copper is man’s oldest metal, dating back more than 10,000 years. A copper pendant discovered in what is now northern Iraq goes back to about 8700 B.C.

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Copper is believed to have been used first by Neolithic man as a substitute for stone around 8000 B.C. The science of metallurgy emerged when copper was heated and mould-casted into shapes in Egypt around 4000 B.C. In 3500 B.C., fire and charcoal were used to smelt ores, and copper was alloyed with tin to create bronze, giving rise to the Bronze Age.

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The Romans obtained their copper from Cyprus. It was called aes Cyprium, which means “metal of Cyprus.” This was shortened to cyprium. Later, cyprium was changed to coprum, and eventually became known in English as copper.

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In ancient Egypt, many everyday items like water vessels, hand mirrors, razors and the chisels used to smooth the limestone blocks of the great pyramids were made of copper. It was also instrumental in agriculture. Copper picks and hoes were used to harvest crops – in this world and in the next. Some 168 miniature copper farming implements, buried with King Tut to serve him in the afterlife, were recovered from his tomb.

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Greek soldiers wore bronze armour and wielded bronze weapons. Bronze rams on the prows of their fast galleys helped sink the Persian fleet at the climactic battle of Salamis. The ahead-of-their-times Egyptians performed complex medical operations with copper-alloy instruments, and copper in various forms was a mainstay in their medicine chests. In the ancient world, food was cooked and served in bronze or brass kitchenware. Water was – and still is – stored in copper and brass vessels to prevent growth of pathogens.

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Bronze mirrors allowed ancient potentates and people of high stature to admire themselves, as well as their copper jewellery. All the while, their garments were held together with copper alloy fittings.

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Early local traders – and later, world travellers – depended on coins made of copper or its alloys. Today, nations around the globe still do.

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Copper metallurgy flourished in South America, particularly in Peru, around the beginning of the first millennium AD. Ceremonial and ornamental objects show the use of hammering and annealing (heating and cooling to soften and temper the metal). Copper was most commonly alloyed with gold and silver during the time when the Mayans, Incans and Aztecs reigned in Central and South America.

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One of the famous Dead Sea Scrolls found in Israel is made of copper instead of more fragile animal skins. The scroll contains no biblical passages or religious writings – only clues to a still undiscovered treasure.

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The first example of copper to clad the underwater hull of a ship was the H.M.S Alarm in 1761. It was used to prevent attack of the wooden hull by the Teredo worm in tropical waters. The copper was also found to reduce biofouling of the hull very significantly, which gave ships a great advantage of speed when compared with those dragging around a vast growth of marine weed. The cladding kept ships in commission at times when others had to be dry-docked or careened on a shore for hull scraping. This significantly enlarged the effective strength of the British Navy.

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The H.M.S. Beagle, used by Charles Darwin for his historic voyages around the world, was built in 1825 with copper skins below the water line. The copper sheathing extended hull life and protected against barnacles and other kinds of biofouling. Today, most seagoing vessels use a copper-containing paint for hull protection.

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Developed to prevent seawater corrosion in marine piping systems, the marine industry soon recognized that Cu-Ni alloys have natural antifouling properties that prevent the build up of waterborne organisms on ship hulls and offshore marine equipment. Ships that use copper-nickel cladding on their hulls do not require the application of special antifouling coatings or extensive cleaning methods to remove biofouling agents. With fewer clinging barnacles, vessels move faster through the water and use less fuel.

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Most modern-day hull protection for boats and ships is accomplished using specially formulated copper-based paints. They inhibit the attachment of barnacles, zebra mussels, slime and algae, and other biotic and aquatic organisms, enabling great speed and efficiency for water vessels.

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A copper strip barrier can keep snails and slugs from entering your garden. The slime they generate creates an electrical charge when contacting the copper and discourages the pests from crossing. Mount the strips around the perimeter of garden beds or containers, and be sure overhanging foliage does not provide an alternative path.

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Copper cookware is the most highly regarded by chefs around the world. Its noted advantages – high heat transfer (the highest of any material used in cooking) plus uniform heating (no hot spots).

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Restaurateurs, hoteliers and interior decorators look to copper and brass as naturally inviting metals that make a statement of quality, comfort and beauty.

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Some things never change. Ten thousand years ago, cave dwellers used copper axes as weapons and tools for survival. Today, high tech surgeons save lives and precious blood by using copper-clad scalpels. The copper conducts an electric current that heats the scalpel to make it self-cauterizing.

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Copper and brass tokens are used in slot machines, video and other amusement games, public transportation, bridges and toll roads, laundry and dry cleaning machines, rental golf carts, buckets of balls at driving ranges, and as commemorative medallions, among other uses.

Copper in Health

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Copper is essential in the human diet. It is needed for the normal growth and development of human fetuses, infants and children. In adults, it is necessary for the growth, development and maintenance of bone, connective tissue, brain, heart and many other body organs. Copper is involved in the formation of red blood cells, the absorption and utilization of iron, and the synthesis and release of life-sustaining proteins and enzymes. These enzymes produce cellular energy and regulate nerve transmission, blood clotting and oxygen transport. Copper is also known to stimulate the immune system, help repair injured tissues and promote healing. Copper has been shown to help neutralize “free radicals,” which can cause severe damage to cells.

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Copper-rich foods include grains, nuts and seeds, organ meats such as liver and kidneys, shellfish, dried fruits, legume vegetables like string beans and potatoes, chicken and some unexpected and delightful sources such as cocoa and chocolate. Vegetarians generally get ample copper from their diet.

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A deficiency in copper is one factor leading to an increased risk of developing high cholesterol levels and coronary heart disease in humans. Copper deficiencies are also associated with premature births, chronic diarrhea and stomach diseases.

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Although excessive ingestion of copper can cause nausea and other adverse effects, the World Health Organization (WHO) has determined there is no major concern for setting an upper threshold, because toxic risk levels rarely exist.

The WHO board of environmental scientists said any risk should be assessed on the bioavailability of copper at a specific site; i.e., evaluation should not be based on total copper content, but rather on the volume of soluble copper that can actually be absorbed by humans or wildlife.

Antimicrobial Copper

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Potential uses of the antimicrobial alloys where they can help reduce the amount of disease-causing bacteria in healthcare facilities include: door and furniture hardware, bed rails, over-bed trays, intravenous (IV) stands, dispensers, faucets, sinks and work stations.

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Initial studies at the University of Southampton, UK, and tests subsequently performed at ATS-Labs in Eagan, Minnesota, for the EPA show that copper-base alloys containing 65% or more copper are effective against:

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
Staphylococcus aureus
Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecalis (VRE)
Enterobacter aerogenes
Escherichia coli O157:H7
Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

These bacteria are considered to be representative of the most dangerous pathogens capable of causing severe and often fatal infections.

The EPA studies show that on copper alloy surfaces, greater than 99.9% of MRSA, as well as the other bacteria shown above, are killed within two hours at room temperature.

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The MRSA “superbug” is a virulent bacterium resistant to broad spectrum antibiotics and, therefore, very difficult to treat. It is a common source of infection in hospitals and is increasingly being found in the community as well.

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Unlike coatings or other materials treatments, the antibacterial efficacy of copper metals won’t wear away. They are solid through-and-through and are effective even when scratched. They offer long-term protection; whereas, antimicrobial coatings are fragile, and can deteriorate or and wear off after time.

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In immunocompromised individuals, exposure to potent microorganisms from HVAC systems can result in severe and sometimes fatal infections. The use of antimicrobial copper instead of biologically-inert materials in heat exchanger tube, fins, condensate drip pans and filters may prove to be a viable and cost-effective means to help control the growth of bacteria and fungi that thrive in dark, damp HVAC systems.

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Copper tube helps stem out­breaks of Legion­naire’s Dis­ease, where bacteria grow in and spread from the tubing and other materials in air-condi­tioning sys­tems not made of copper. Copper surfaces are inhos­pitable to the growth of Legionella and other bacteria.

Copper Facts 7

In the Bordeaux district of France, the 19th century French scientist Millardet noticed that vines daubed with a paste of copper sulfate and lime to make the grapes unattractive to theft appeared to be freer of downy mildew disease. This observation led to a cure (known as Bordeaux Mixture) for the dreaded mildew and prompted the commencement of protective crop spraying. Trials with copper mixtures against various fungal diseases soon revealed that many plant diseases could be prevented with small amounts of copper. Ever since, copper fungicides have been indispensable all over the world.

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While conducting research in India in 2005, English microbiologist Rob Reed observed villagers storing water in brass vessels. When he asked them why they used brass, the villagers said it protected them against waterborne illnesses such as diarrhea and dysentery. Reed tested their theory under laboratory conditions by introducing E. coli bacteria to water in brass pitchers. Within 48 hours, the amount of living bacteria in the water had been reduced to undetectable levels.

Copper – an Important Natural Resource

Copper Facts 1

We’re in no danger of running out of copper. World­wide resources of this important and valuable metal are estimated at more than 8.1 trillion pounds of which only about 1.1 trillion (~13.6%) have been mined through­out history.

And keep in mind, a vast amount of those 1.1 trillion pounds is still in circulation because copper’s recycling rate is higher than that of any other engineering metal.

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Almost half of all recycled copper scrap is old post-consumer scrap, such as discarded electric cable, junked automobile radiators and air conditioners, or even ancient Egyptian plumbing. (Yes, it’s been around that long.) The remainder is new scrap, such as chips and turnings from screw machine production.

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Man has been recycling copper throughout history. During the Middle Ages, which saw frequent conflicts, bronze (an alloy of copper and tin) cannons were typically melted down after each war and made into more useful items. Discarded electrical wiring, plumbing tube, cartridge cases from the military, automobile radiators and production scrap are some of the main sources for reclaimed copper today.

Copper in Architecture

Copper Facts 1

Copper has played an important role in the design and architecture of all types of structures for thousands of years. In ancient Egypt, the massive doors to the temple of Amen-Re at Karnak were clad with copper. The 162-foot-tall, nine-story Loha Maha Paya temple built in the third century B.C. in Sri Lanka sparkled with copper roof shingles. Copper was an integral part of European medieval architecture and today, some 10,000 years after it was first discovered by mankind, architects and building designers are finding new and innovative ways to use copper in their designs.

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In most of the country, copper weathers naturally to a lovely blue-green colour, or patina, over time. In arid climates, the color change is usually to a nut brown. The colour-change is the result of surface oxidation caused mainly by moisture and corrosive elements in the atmosphere. Unlike rust oxidation, the copper patina is a protective barrier that retards further corrosion, to maintain copper’s long life.

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Not everyone can wait for copper to weather naturally. Demand from architects and builders for pre-patinated copper products has prompted copper mills to develop new methods that speed up or replicate the natural aging process. Researchers are continually experimenting with ways to “enhance” this natural chemical conversion process. Aftermarket treatments offer a spectrum of patina colour finishes, helping to create new markets – and make architectural clients happy.

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From the spires and roofs of the celebrated castles and cathedrals of Europe to the solid copper “Golden Temple” in Kunming, China, or the famous baptistery doors of Italy’s Florence Cathedral, copper and its alloys, bronze and brass, have continued to serve as decorative and functional elements on some of the world’s oldest and most famous architecture.

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Various estimates put the lifespan of a copper roof at more than 100 years, while asphalt shingles – the most commonly used roofing material in America – are said to last 15-30 years, on average. This makes copper one of the most cost-effective roofing materials on the market. The reason for copper’s longevity is the natural patina it develops with age that serves as a protective shell when the metal is exposed to the elements.

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Copper is both literally and figuratively a green building material. Besides its familiar green patina, the metal is environmentally friendly, boasting one of the highest recycling rates of any engineering metal. And, copper roofing or cladding will never be discarded or wind up in a landfill. Instead, because of its value, it can be salvaged and recycled.

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It would be difficult to imagine houses of worship without copper, brass or bronze. The aesthetic and durable metals are found in interior as well as exterior uses and often used for sacred vessels, statuary and decoration – and even most church bells rely on bronze (modern, electronic chimes rely on copper-wired circuits).

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Sheet copper is available in many varieties: colours, coatings, textures and even pre-patinated for those who can’t wait for nature to take its course. And, as architects are quick to point out, it can be applied in a number of ways: standing seam, batten seam, flat seam, shingles and other imaginative and attractive forms.

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A copper composite material composed of rigid thermoplastic sheets clad on both sides with copper sheeting is finding growing application for both building exteriors and interiors. Structures can now be clad with appealing copper, but with much less weight. The 4-mm thick composites weigh about two pounds per square foot, or only 35% as much as solid copper of that thickness.

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Roofing manufacturers use granules containing copper oxide in their asphalt shingles to prevent ugly discoloration of their product by algae. Copper ions, which inhibit algae growth, are leached by moisture from the porous ceramic granules, which can last for 25 to 30 years.

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Shingles stained with unsightly algae have no copper in the roofing shingle granules to kill the roof algae. To remedy the problem, clean your roof with oxygen bleach and then install copper strips under roofing shingles to keep the black, streaky eyesore at bay. One strip, across the entire roof, having a two-inch exposure should protect 14 to 18 feet of the roof below it. To install, cut long 7- to 8-inch-wide strips of copper. Slide them up under the shingles until you hit the nails. Then, every four feet or so, lift a shingle tab and drive a copper nail through the copper strip. When you let the shingle tab back down, it should completely cover the nail.

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Copper tubing is used in the biosphere’s extensive air handling and heat exchange systems because of its excellent heat transfer properties and reliability. Copper tubes filled with chilled water cool the air, while simultaneously absorbing the sun’s radiant heat inside the dome. Copper is also used in the electrical wiring, as well as the motors and fans needed to distribute the cooler air.

Electrical

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Copper is the standard benchmark for electrical conductivity. It conducts electrical current better than any other metal except silver.

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Copper is routinely refined to 99.98% purity (even more pure than Ivory Soap) before it is acceptable for many electrical applications.

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Wherever electricity flows, connectors are required. Copper in its many varieties is the dominant and favoured material whether conductors are used for high-current power distribution or “signal” level currents used for data and telecommunications.

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Electric power generators employ electromagnetic principles to convert mechanical energy into electric current through the use of massive copper-wound stators and rotors. Newer and smaller power generators use turbines that are either submerged to capture strong river or tidal currents or elevated to capture the flow of prevailing winds.

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Copper plays a crucial role in the delivery of wind energy, based on its high-conductivity, low electrical resistance and resistance to corrosion. Some wind farms contain more than 300,000 feet of copper wire. Electricity generated through wind power flows through insulated copper cables to a copper-wound transformer. Underground copper cables collect the electricity from the base of each tower and deliver it to a substation that transmits it to the utility grid.

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Some high-power connectors weigh in at 20 pounds or more, while tiny electronic connectors may weigh as little as a few milligrams with spacing between pins less than half a millimetre.

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A practical die-cast copper rotor for electric motors has been the “holy grail” for motor manufacturers for many years. In the late 1990s, a consortium assembled by the Copper Development Association began developing a motor design and suitable die materials for use in casting copper motor rotors.

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In 2005, Siemens AG, Munich, Germany, optimized the revolutionary rotor design and introduced new product lines, first in Europe and later in North America. Germany’s SEW Eurodrive also offers a series of high-efficiency motors with copper rotors. FAVI S.A., Hallencourt, France, produces die-cast copper rotors for use by other motor manufacturers. Copper-rotor motors have a dramatic increase in motor efficiency.

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Hybrid cars and SUVs use copper-wound induction motors that draw their power from batteries. To help brake the vehicle, the induction motors act as generators, delivering power to be stored in the batteries. Manufacturers claim such hybrids can be up to 60% more fuel efficient that their standard versions.

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Larger hybrid trucks and buses can be equipped with motors using highly efficient copper rotors. One company, which has road tested such vehicles says they perform exceptionally well, decreasing particulate emissions by 96% and traveling 57% farther on a gallon of fuel, thus reducing fuel costs by more than a third.

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Copper rotor motors are used in the world-renowned Tesla vehicles. The company’s all-electric roadster can do 0-60 mph in an incredible 3.7 seconds. Its sedan sister (a comparative slowpoke) takes 5.6 seconds. The vehicles go run 245 miles or 300 miles, respectively, on a single charge. Now that’s efficiency!

Copper Facts 12

Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology have built a drill motor that spins at a 1,000,000 rpm, that’s nearly 17,000 revolutions per second, at least twice as fast as any motor currently in existence. The matchbox-sized device uses ultra-thin copper wires for its windings, which are inserted into a cylinder of a “special iron previously unused for machines.” The assembly is encased in a titanium shell to keep it from flying apart. The new motor will allow the drilling of holes narrower than the width of a human hair for use in the electronics industry.

Copper Facts 13

Power quality problems that plague many modern offices and factories are largely preventable. Copper-intensive solutions include using larger neutral conductors to handle harmonic loads, better grounding systems to dissipate transients and lightning, and fewer outlets per circuit to lessen interaction between office equipment and computers.

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In one of its most spectacular and futuristic applications, copper provides the matrix in the superconductors used in the CERN Large Hadron Collider, the largest in the world, in Switzerland.

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Copper has long been used as the heat exchange medium in solar heating and hot water systems. Now, it promises to become equally valuable in photovoltaic (PV) systems. These systems produce electricity through the action of sunshine on certain semiconductors. Currently, the most promising material for lower costs and ease of manufacture is copper-indium-gallium-diselenide, or CIGS for short.

Electronics

Copper Facts 1

IBM and others are using copper instead of aluminium in the most powerful computer chips they manufacture. Because of copper’s superior electrical conductivity, this technology enables conductor channel lengths and widths to be significantly reduced. The result is much faster operating speeds and greater circuit integration – 400 million transistors can be packed onto a single chip. Power requirements are now reduced to less than 1.8 volts, and the chips run cooler than ever before.

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The use of copper conductors in the chip is the last link in a now unbroken copper chain comprising the electronic data path between user and computer. From external cables and connectors to bus ways to printed circuit boards, sockets and lead frames, it’s all copper.

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Since their invention early in this century, electron tubes have depended on copper and copper alloys for their internal components. In spite of the dominance of semiconductors, some $2 billion worth of vacuum tubes are manufactured annually. They include the cathode ray tubes used in TVs and computer monitors, voltage rectifiers, audio and video amplification and broadcast applications, and the magnetrons in microwave ovens.

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Radio and television signals are carried to transmission antennas by hollow conduits called wave-guides. Wave-guides made of oxygen-free, high-conductivity copper are 30% to 40% more efficient than their aluminium counterparts.

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Most electronic components generate heat which can cause them to age and fail prematurely. This is especially true for today’s highly integrated microprocessors (computer chips). Copper’s thermal conductivity, or capacity to conduct heat, is about 60 percent greater than that of aluminium, so copper can remove much more heat more quickly. The more heat removed from the processor, the more efficiently it will operate, with less potential for damage to other critical components.

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Copper is used to enhance new radio frequency identification (RFID) technology used for security, tracking and purchasing systems in retail, manufacturing, transportation and distribution. For example, gas stations use RFID to allow customers to pay at the pump with a small wand that holds their credit card information. Copper increases the distance at which this “invisible” technology will work.

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Most printed circuit boards for electronic products are made by laminating a sheet of copper onto a flexible film and then etching away much of the copper to leave thin lines of solid copper that carry current. A new method uses inkjet technology to deposit only thin copper lines onto the circuit, eliminating waste and making circuits less expensive to produce.

Communications

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Not long ago, it was thought that only fibre optics could handle big bandwidths. Not so. Communication between computers can now achieve data speeds up to 10 gigabits per second on twisted pairs of copper wire called structured wiring.

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HDSL (High-Speed Digital Subscriber Line) and ADSL (Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line) technologies enable telephone companies to capitalize on existing copper lines and for businesses to accommodate lower-cost communications and networking options – without having to switch to high-cost fibre optics. The technology also allows for voice and data transmissions to be conducted simultaneously on the copper phone wires which exist in most of the nation’s housing.

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Category 6 (or better) structured wiring allows users to take maximum advantage of computer-based technologies. The most common jacketed cable consists of four tightly twisted pairs of #24 gauge insulated copper conductors. It is extensively used in commercial applications and in new homes to meet consumer demand. It can accommodate bandwidths of 100 megahertz. Categories 6 and 6a, can achieve even greater capacities – delivering data streams up to 10 gigabit per second.

Plumbing

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Archaeologists recovered a portion of the water plumbing system from the Pyramid of Cheops in Egypt. The copper tubing used was found in serviceable condition after more than 5,000 years.

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Sometime around 1927, metal manufacturers introduced a new type of lightweight yet durable drawn copper tube that could be quickly soldered together with inexpensive copper fittings. This revolutionized plumbing and set a standard for the type of indoor water systems found in homes today.

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A major application for copper tubing is fuel gas. More home builders are installing high-pressure gas lines these days, and copper tubing is the most economical choice for connecting appliances like gas ovens, ranges, clothes dryers, water heaters, fireplaces and outdoor barbecues to a natural gas or propane supply.

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Ground source, direct-exchange heat pumps can home energy costs by as much as 75 percent. Unlike other heat pump systems, the direct-exchange system’s savings result from having its heat-exchange medium (refrigerant) circulating through closed loops of small-diameter copper tubing buried in the earth, where temperatures hover constantly around 55 degrees Fahrenheit, even in winter climates.

Copper in the Home

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Building construction accounts for nearly half of all copper use. Residential construction is about two-thirds of the building construction market.

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Some 10,000 copper range hoods and 20,000 weather vanes are produced annually, using about 7 pounds of copper each.

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The average house has 12 locksets: 2½ are keyed, the rest are passage sets. The average multifamily unit has 6 locksets: 1½ keyed, the remainder are passage sets.

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There is an average of 50-55 electrical outlets per home and some 15-20 switches. That translates to between 2½ and 3 pounds of copper alloy for these uses per house.

Copper in Household Products

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Most silver plate flatware (forks, knives, spoons) has a copper-nickel-zinc alloy base (nickel silver) which accounts for about 1.2 pounds of copper per set of 12 pieces. An average set of hollowware uses about 1.8 pounds of copper.

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In order for sterling silver to be usable as tableware, 7.5 percent copper is mixed with 92.5 percent silver, making the metal hard and sturdy.

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A pair of brass fireplace andirons weighs about 15 pounds. A copper fire screen uses about 12 pounds. A set of fireplace tools is about 10 pounds.

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A solid brass bed weighs in at about 60 pounds.

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Brass tables go for about 15 pounds each, while brass-framed mirrors use about 5 pounds each.

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Brass and/or copper floor and table lamps consume about 7 pounds each for a total of about 60 million pounds – about half of all household products.

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Grandfather, grandmother and large wall clocks, on average, use about 9 pounds of copper, each.

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Decorative and instrumental bells consume about 4 pounds of copper alloy each, on average.

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Twenty-four carat gold is not always pure. Because gold is so soft, it can be moulded with the hands and is subject to blemishing. Therefore, gold coins and jewellery are usually alloyed with copper to provide a degree of hardness.

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Advanced technology offers tough, new finishes for brass products that are brilliant and long lasting – many that come with lifetime warranties against corrosion, pitting and discoloration. Using various vapor-deposition processes, multiple coatings of semiprecious metals, only molecules thick, are applied to the brass. Final colour coats produce bright brass, chrome and other finishes.

Copper in Transportation and Industry

Copper Facts 1

The Tesla Roadster is also the first commercially available automobile powered by an electric motor powered by a copper rotor. This innovative advancement in metallurgical technology increases efficiency, resulting in greater overall power and longer operating distances between charges. A true sports car, the Roadster is hand-built, sleekly designed, fast and nimble. It boasts a range of 250 miles with a top speed of 130 mph.

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BMW has introduced its MINI E electric vehicle. It delivers 204 bhp (150 kw) form its copper-rotor induction motor manufactured by AC Propulsion. The air-cooled will do 0-67 mph in 8.5 seconds with a range of about 240 miles.

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AC Propulsion is the owner of 6 issued patents on EV technology, which have been licensed to other companies, including Tesla Motors. Some of this technology was originally developed by AC Propulsion for its tzero electric sports car which achieved 0-60 mph acceleration in 3.6 seconds and 300 mile range while driving 60 mph.

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In 1948, the average family car contained only about 55 wires amounting to an average total length of 150 feet. Today’s luxury cars, on average, contain some 1,500 copper wires totalling about one mile in length, thanks to continuing improvements in electronics and the addition of power accessories.

Copper Facts 5

CuproBraze™ is the name of a new manufacturing process for copper-and-brass automotive radiators. The process uses flux-less lead-free brazing, anneal resistant alloys and laser welding among other innovations to produce new thin-walled radiators that perform better than thicker-walled aluminium products.

Copper Facts 6

The new radiator was developed by the International Copper Association and produced initially by the Universal Auto Radiator Manufacturing Company. They are typically 30% to 40% lighter than traditional copper and brass models, can be made smaller than their aluminium counterparts, and can provide up to 30% less airside pressure drop. The CuproBraze process also shortens manufacturing time and reduces production costs.

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Vehicle engines run smoother and last longer because copper is added to lubricants. Motor oil manufacturers typically include additives containing soluble, antioxidant copper to their products, a process originally patented by Exxon Chemical Corp. Exxon considers the copper-based additive to rank among the most significant inventions in crankcase additive chemistry in the 20th century.

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The body of the 1921 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost is completely copper. Nearly all of the car’s engine hardware is solid brass. And, of course, it has a copper and brass radiator. The Franklin Mint offers a precision scale model. The National Transportation Museum in Reno, Nevada, displays the classic restored Rolls.

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An average motorized farm vehicle uses 63 pounds of copper, while construction vehicles use an average 66 pounds. An electric forklift truck uses about 138 pounds.

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The largest mobile land machine ever built is a mammoth electric shovel, called the walking dragline, and uses a whopping 800,000 pounds of copper.

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About 2% (9,000 pounds) of the total weight of a Boeing 747-200 jet plane is copper. Included in that weight is 632,000 feet of copper wire.

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A typical, diesel-electric railroad locomotive uses about 11,000 pounds of copper.

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The 6,000-hp engines rely on copper-wound generators; copper-and-brass radiators for cooling; copper tube for refrigeration, air-conditioning and heating; and more than five miles of copper wire for power and communications.

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Model railroads depend on copper, too. Prized scale models of locomotive and rolling stock are cast in solid brass. All model motors are wound with copper wire, as are the transformers that supply the voltage applied to the tracks and accessories. By the way, the tracks are made of brass or nickel silver, another alloy of copper.

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Electrically powered subway cars, trolleys and buses use from 625 pounds to 9,200 pounds of copper each, for a weighted average of 2,300 pounds apiece.

Copper Facts 17

A Triton-class nuclear submarine uses about 200,000 pounds of copper.

Copper Facts 18

Cast and sintered bronzes perform an important anti-friction function as bearings in millions of home products, automobiles and trucks, and in virtually all heavy industrial equipment.

Copper Facts 19

Bronze bearings come in several basic forms, including cylindrical sleeves or flanges; flat, donut-shaped thrust bearings; or disk-shaped bearing plates.

Copper Facts 20

Today, small-footprint, high-efficiency boilers based on copper heat exchangers are replacing conventional firebox boilers that required rooms with ceilings as high as 18 feet. Aside from space saving, the new boilers are more energy efficient – in the range of 84% versus less than 70% for the old room-size units.

Copper Facts 21

Copper-alloy inserts and core pins are used extensively in problem areas of the plastics moulding process because of copper’s excellent thermal conductivity (heat transfer).

Copper Facts 22

Injection moulds made completely from copper alloys (instead of steel or aluminium) are used in the plastics industry. Along with increased production rates, copper alloy moulds reduce warping, surface finish problems and operating costs for manufacturers.

Copper Facts 23

Copper dies are used for the printing of high-definition graphics, such as labels, trading cards and specialty packaging. Copper dies are also preferred by those who print on foil because they offer higher heat transfer as well as being helpful in creating sharper images. In addition to paper and foil, the dies are used to emboss and foil stamp on corrugated paperboard, plastic, leather, wood and other substrates.

Copper Facts 24

Less dramatic perhaps, but nevertheless playing an essential role in modern medicine, are MRI scanners which rely on copper-based superconductors to create their images.

Copper in Consumer Products

Copper Facts 1

Copper alloys were used in even the oldest of musical instruments. Bronze cymbals date back over three millennia to Assyria. The Chinese created copper-alloy trumpets and bronze chimes 2,200 years ago. The first trumpets made of copper alloys in the West, created by the Greeks and Romans, are about 2,000 years old. However, the oldest trumpets, perhaps made of animal horns and tusks, were created in Egypt nearly 4,000 years ago.

Copper Facts 2

The leading manufacturer of cymbals, Avedis Zildjian, traces its origin back to Istanbul in 1623 (it is now in Norwood, Massachusetts). Tiny, high-pitched cymbals known as “crotales” are worn by dancers on their fingers. Crotales’ popular name, “zils,” comes from the manufacturer. The ingredients for Zildjian’s bronze cymbals are mostly copper, plus some tin and silver, but the exact amounts are a centuries-old family secret. Full-size cymbals are part of the percussion sections of the world’s leading orchestras. A little-known use of copper is in classical guitars. According to David Starobin, head of the classical guitar department at the Manhattan School of Music, the bass strings are wrapped in silver plated copper.

Copper Facts 3

The largest swinging bell ever is the 12-foot-high, 66,000-pound “World Peace Bell” in Newport, Kentucky. Cast in “bell bronze” in 1999 by the Verdin Company, its multimillion-dollar cost was borne by a wealthy contractor. When rung at noon each day, the bell can be heard from up to three miles away. The only larger bell is in Russia. It sits on the ground and can’t be rung.

Copper Facts 4

In the 14th century, iron was used to make the movements of mechanical clocks. By the 17th century, brass became the preferred material because it is corrosion-resistant and easily worked. In the 19th century, several Connecticut companies began supplying inexpensive, easily stamped sheets of “clock brass.” This gave rise to the mass production of low-cost clocks, watches, and toys as well as buttons, lamp burners, flatware, kettles and other brass goods.

Copper Facts 5

Copper and its alloys are widely used in the funeral and burial business. Coffins, vaults, plaques on monuments, and cremation urns are typically made with durable, non-corrosive copper alloys. The lids on some coffins are also affixed with commercial bronzes.

Copper Facts 6

Copper is used for making vessels to brew beer and distil liquor. The use of copper brewing vessels probably began around 2000 B.C., in the middle of the Bronze Age. Copper helps keep the distillate sweet by removing unpleasant tasting sulfur based compounds from the alcohol.

Copper Facts 7

Copper pots are also used for candy making, because copper has more than four times the thermal conductivity of its closest rival, stainless steel, providing efficient and uniform heat transfer. It also has a good reputation for removing toxins and giving a fresh brisk taste to food and beverages. Copper is used worldwide for distilleries, breweries and candy manufactures.

Copper in Art

Copper Facts 1

Copper and its alloys have been used throughout the ages for artistic pursuits. Due to the metal’s unique physical properties, it can be manipulated into various shapes, designs and structures of all sizes. And, it looks good. Today, copper fixtures and decorative copper finishes are an exciting trend in home décor and can be found on everything from small appliances to refrigerators, countertops, fireplace surrounds and more.

Copper Facts 2

While copper is known for its rich red-gold hue, it doesn’t often appear that way in nature. Instead, it can be found masquerading in shades of blue, green, red and turquoise. Thousands of years ago, the Egyptians learned that certain minerals contained valuable deposits of copper. These minerals include malachite (green), azurite (blue), cuprite (red) and turquoise (blue-green).

Copper Facts 3

Famous artworks like Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker were cast in bronze using the same techniques developed by the Egyptians. Thousands of years later, sculptors still rely on this process, called the “lost wax” method, to produce works of art.

Copper Facts 4

The Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, was built in the third century BC from bronze reclaimed from confiscated war implements. The bronze plates covered an iron frame, much like the Statue of Liberty (which is about the same size at 111 feet). The Colossus was destroyed by an earthquake some 50 years later, and the bronze was gathered up and sold as scrap – another early example of recycling copper metals.

Copper Facts 5

The Statue of Liberty contains 160,000 pounds of copper. It came from the Visnes copper mines on Karmoy Island near Stavanger, Norway, and was fabricated by French artisans. The Lady’s pure copper sheets are 3/32-inch thick. Her natural, green patina is about 0.005-inches thick and has protected her from corrosion since 1886.

Copper Facts 6

Copper-based pigments were an important ingredient in ancient paints, and the metal itself was frequently employed as a “canvas” on which Renaissance artists painted. Copper also served as an engraving plate for etchings and prints by master artists such as Rembrandt. As an ingredient in paint, natural copper ores such as azurite (blue) and malachite (green), add a depth and dimensionality to paintings that cannot be duplicated by man-made substitutes. As for copper’s use as a canvas, there was virtually nothing else available to artists in pre-technological times that approached its smoothness and durability.

Copper Facts 7

Beginning in the early 16th century, European artists often painted on sheets of copper. Those artists include some of the most famous painters of all time: Leonardo da Vinci, Jan Brueghel, El Greco and Rembrandt. They found that copper provided a smooth, durable surface that held the paint very well and allowed for marvellous effects.

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