THE COVETED COPPER

Copper – a metal with tradition and superpowers

Copper is one of the world’s most widely used metals. Because of its excellent conductivity, it is a sought-after material in everything from water pipes to high-tech electrical products. Copper plays one of the leading roles in the ongoing electrification and digitalisation and is a necessary ingredient in the transition to renewable energy sources. It takes a long time for  sediments in the bedrock to form new copper. Once  extracted it can be reused and transformed indefinitely, without losing its properties.

 

DID YOU KNOW THAT:

  • Copper has unique conducting properties. Only silver is better at conducting electricity and heat. Copper is found in water pipes, power lines, memory cards, and other electronic installations.

  • Copper is one of the world’s most recycled metals. The conductivity does not deteriorate when it is recycled. Copper’s life span is almost infinite.

  • Copper is both durable, malleable and ductile. It can withstand temperatures between –200 ° C and 250 ° C and can be bent as much as you like without losing its properties. The fact that copper is so malleable makes it a rewarding material for really small or thin components.

  • Together with gold, copper is the metal man has mined and processed for the longest time. About 9000 years ago, copper was used, among other things, as material for weapons. Apart from gold, copper is the only metal that can be produced in different colours.

  • The green layer sometimes seen on copper is a patina or so-called verdigris. The coating is formed by the copper reacting chemically with substances in its environment, such as air or water. In some contexts, the patina is perceived as aesthetically pleasing. To avoid waiting for about 50 years, which is how long it takes for the verdigris to form naturally, the patina can be achieved artificially.

The more electrified society becomes, the greater the demand for copper is expected to be. Electric cars, for example, are full of copper. They have up to five times more electrical cables than a regular car, for example in their battery pack. Therefore, the electric car revolution is one of many societal changes that suggest that copper will continue to rise in popularity. It is usually assumed that 1 tonne of copper per Megawatt capacity is used in electricity production to build a traditional coal-fired power plant. It takes 4-5 tonnes of copper per MW when building solar or wind turbines on solid ground. When constructing solar or wind power plants offshore, as much as 15 tonnes of copper per MW is needed in the water off the coast. The longer the distance between the source of power generation and the area where the power is required, the more copper is used to transmit power.Other copper-dependent parts of the electrified infrastructure are charging stations for electric cars, servers, and electricity production plants with solar cells. 

Although Copper has lots of vital properties for modern society, it can do damage if it ends up in the wrong environment. High copper levels can affect aquatic organisms, so it is essential to filter and purify components that risk leaking copper into nature.

The fact that copper is so malleable makes it a rewarding material for really small or thin components.

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