Copper is one of the most common metals, and it’s a good thing since we use it for everything from household wiring, instruments to vehicle propellers and more. Copper is so widely used in fact, that the price of this metal is used to determine economic health. To better understand its value, you’ll have to learn its various applications.
Copper is perhaps best known for its use in electricity. It is very effective as an electrical conductor, and it is malleable, ductile and corrosion resistance. Copper is compatible with a diverse array of power networks too, hence its usability.
Except for overhead power lines, all types of electrical wiring are made from copper. Conductors, motor windings, transformers and busbars all rely on this metal’s conductivity. With a 99% efficiency rating it’s hardly a wonder transformers are often made of copper.
Electrical components like mobile phones, computers, electronic devices and TVs rely on copper. Copper is also used in:
- Heat sinks
- Fire sprinkler systems
- Vacuum tubes
- Magnetrons in microwaves
- Printed circuit boards
- Circuitry contacts and wiring
- Electronic connectors
This is another industry that relies a lot on copper. Twisted copper wires are utilized in HDSL and ADSL wires for LAN. The UTP conductors are comprised of copper wires, and while Wi-Fi is becoming more common, a lot of computer technology still depends on copper wires.
Renewable energy is dependent on copper for producing CIGS (copper-indium-gallium-selenide) wind turbines and photovaltic cells. One wind turbine likely has a ton of copper, and it is also used in renewable energy distribution systems and motors.
Tubes made of copper are used in heating systems and drinking water owing to the metal’s ability to keep bacteria out of water. Copper is also malleable and can be easily shaped to suit different needs. Copper is also resistant to heat corrosion so it holds up well to prolonged use.
Copper or copper alloy are also notable for being stable, and couple that with its corrosion resistance and it’s a practical solution to transporting drinking water. Copper material is also used in industrial and saltwater environments. Copper can also be used in:
- Distribution of fuel gas piping
- Distribution tubes for liquefied and natural petroleum
- Seawater feed lines
- Piping at distillation plants
- Agricultural and irrigation sprinkler systems
- Drill water supply current pumps
- Heat exchanger tubes for chemical plant and steam power station condensers
Copper has also been utilized as a metal for architecture for thousands of years, the oldest known dating back 4000 years ago in Karnak, Egypt. Copper was used in the construction of the Loha Maha Paya Temple in Sri Lanka which dates back to the 3rd century.
Copper is also used in spires and domes in medieval cathedrals and churches. Copper is also used in contemporary buildings, commercial and residential homes. Among the many other benefits of copper is that it is pleasing to the eyes, simple to join with other metals, corrosion resistant, durable and lightweight.
The use of copper as decoration for architecture is not limited to the above. Copper can also be used for the following.
- Bathroom and lighting fixtures
Medical facilities and hospitals also use copper because it doesn’t attract bacteria, essential in these places.
Copper is used in cars, boats, trains and aircraft as they’re dependent on the metal’s thermal and electrical properties. Brass and copper have been used in radiators for decades, and the expanded use of heated seats, anti locking brakes, on-board navigation systems and other electronic parts have only fueled demand.
Other components that have copper are:
- Mirror control wiring
- Window control wiring
- Bronze sleeve bearings
- Hydraulic lines
- Brass screws, fasteners and fittings
- Glass defrost system wiring
The rapid development of electric cars is expected to further boost demand for copper. As it is, copper chemicals and metal foils are used in lithium ion batteries and nickel metal hydride batteries found on energy efficient vehicles. There are also rotors that use copper as it is more practical than earth magnet.
Some high speed trains use up t 10 tons of copper for every kilometer of track, and some trolleys and trams use copper cadmium or copper silver, and the same is true for aircraft. In fact up to 2% of an airplane’s weight is due to the copper it uses. Ships also make full use of copper for their valves, pumps and fittings.
Copper is one of the most flexible and reliable metals in the world, and its versatility means this is one metal that we’ll be using for a long time.