Copper: Properties and Applications The word copper comes from the Latin word ‘cuprum’, which means ‘ore of Cyprus’. This is why the chemical symbol for copper is Cu. Copper has many extremely useful properties, including:
- good electrical conductivity
- good thermal conductivity
It is also: Read: why copper is a good conductor of electricity
- easy to alloy
- easy to join
See below for more information on each of these assets and how they benefit us in our daily lives.
Good electrical conductivity
Copper has the best electrical conductivity of all metals, with the exception of silver, which conducts electricity as well as has a small resistance. A current will flow through all metals, however they still have some resistance, which means current needs to be pushed (by a battery) to keep flowing. The larger the resistance, the more we have to push (and the smaller the amperage). Current flows through copper easily thanks to its small resistance, without much loss of energy. This is why copper wire is used in indoor and underground mains cables (although overhead cables tend to be aluminum because it’s less dense). However, size rather than weight is important, copper is the best choice. Thick copper strips are used for down-conductors on high-rise buildings such as church spires. The copper strip must be thick to be able to carry large currents without melting. Copper wire can be wound into coils. The coil will generate a magnetic field and is made of copper so it won’t waste much electrical energy. Copper coils can be found in: Equipment Using Electromagnets Locks, Scrap Cranes, Electric Bells. (See section Electromagnets.) Motors Pumps, household appliances (washing machines, dishwashers, refrigerators, vacuum cleaners), cars (starter motors, windshield wipers, power windows) ), computer (drive, fan), entertainment system (DVD player). (See Electric motors.) Bicycle motors, power stations Transformers Power adapters, power substations, generating stations. (See Copper and Electricity: Transformers and the Grid.)How does copper conduct electricity? Copper is a metal made up of copper atoms that are closely packed together, if we look closely, we will see that there are electrons moving between the copper atoms, each copper atom loses an electron and becomes an ion. positive. So copper is a lattice of positive copper ions with free electrons moving between them. (Electrons are like particles of a gas that move freely through the surface of a conductor.) Electrons can move freely in metals. For this reason, they are called free electrons. They are also known as conduction electrons, because they make copper a good conductor of heat and electricity. The copper ions oscillate (see Figure 1). Notice that they oscillate around the same place while electrons can move in the lattice. This is very important when we connect the wire to the battery.Figure 1 – A copper wire is made up of a lattice of copper ions. There are free electrons that move through this lattice like a gas, conduct electricity. We can connect copper wires to batteries and switches. Normally, free electrons move randomly in metals. When we close the switch, an electric current flows through. Now the free electrons are flowing through the wire (Figure 2) they are moving from left to right (and still moving randomly).Figure 2 – The operation of the switch in the above circuit makes the electrons move from left to right, opposite to the current Read more: Why do you love me? 20 best answers | Q&A Electron has a negative charge. They are attracted to the positive terminal of the battery. The free electrons move through the copper, flowing from the cathode to the anode of the battery (note that they flow in the opposite direction to normal current; this is because they carry a negative charge). Copper ions in the wire oscillate. Sometimes an ion blocks the path of a moving electron. The electron collides with the ion and bounces off it. This slows down the electron. Part of its energy has been transferred to the ion, which oscillates faster, in this way the energy is transferred from the moving electrons to the copper ions. Copper heats up. This explains why:
- resistive metal.
- Metals heat up when an electric current is passed through them.
Good thermal conductivity
Copper is a good conductor of heat. This means that if you heat one end of a piece of copper, the other end will quickly reach the same temperature. Most metals are fairly good conductors of electricity; However, aside from silver, copper is the best. Relative Conductivity of Metals Copper 394 Silver 418 Aluminum 238 Stainless Steel 13 Rapid conductivity of common metals. When you heat one side of the material, the other side heats up. The values above are a measure of how quickly the other side heats up as the side gets heated. It is used in many heating applications because it is non-corrosive and has a high melting point. The only other material with similar corrosion resistance is stainless steel. However, its thermal conductivity is 30 times worse than copper.Applications Copper allows heat to pass through it quickly. It is therefore used in many applications where rapid heat transfer is important. These include: Equipment Using Copper Plate Bottoms. Copper tubes Heat exchangers in water heaters, underfloor heating, soccer fields and all-weather automotive radiators. Heatsink Computers, drives, TVs.Heat conductivity Copper is made from a crystal lattice of ions with free electrons (see Figure 1). Ions are oscillating and electrons can move through copper (like a gas). Figure 3 shows what happens when one end of the copper plate heats up. Copper ions at the hot end fluctuate more. Note: the electrons have been left out of the picture to keep it clear.Figure 3 – The left end of the copper pad is hotter. Copper ions at the hot end fluctuate more. (Note: the electrons have been left out of the figure to keep it clear.) Figure 4 focuses on just a few electrons to see how they conduct heat from left to right.
Figure 4 – How electrons conduct heat from left to right (only some are shown for easier viewing).Non-metals conduct heat Compare this to how heat is conduction in non-metals. Vibrating particles transmit vibrations to their nearest neighbors. This is much slower. That’s why metals are the best conductors of electricity – their free electrons can carry energy along their length.
Copper is low in the reaction series. This means it does not tend to corrode. This is important for its use for pipes, electrical cables, pots and pans and radiators, which also means it is well suited for decorative use. Jewelry, statues and parts of buildings can be made from bronze, brass or brass and remain attractive for thousands of years. Read more: Mewsings | Top Q & AF For more information on the benefits of copper’s corrosion resistance for marine applications, see Copper Alloys in Aquaculture.
Copper can easily combine with other metals to form alloys. The first alloy produced was copper smelting with tin to form copper – a discovery so important that the period in history is known as the Bronze Age. . The alloys are harder, stronger and harder than pure copper. They can be made even harder by hammering them – a process known as ‘hardening’.The copper alloy tree shows options for adding other metals to create different alloys. Here are some examples. Click on the chart above to see a larger version. Copper + nickel + zinc = silver nickel. For more information, see the Bronze in mint resource. You can also see the Copper Development Association pages on Copper and its alloys.
Copper is inherently hygienic, which means it does not fight bacteria, viruses, and fungi that cling to its surface. This property is seeing the installation of surfaces made from copper and copper alloys in hospitals and other areas where hygiene is a primary concern.
Easy to join
Copper can be joined easily by soldering or soldering. This is useful for piping and for making sealed copper vessels.
Copper is a ductile metal. This means it can easily be shaped into a tube and drawn into a wire. Copper pipes are lightweight because they can have thin walls. They do not corrode and they can be bent to fit corners. The pipes can be joined by welding and they are safe in fires because they do not burn or support combustion.
Copper and its alloys are very hard. This means they are well suited for use with tools and weapons. Imagine the ancient man’s delight when he discovered that his carefully shaped arrowheads no longer broke on impact. They do not break when dropped or become brittle when cooled below 0°C.
Copper is non-magnetic and does not generate sparks. Because of this, it is used in special tools and military applications.
Copper and its alloys, such as brass, are used in jewelry and ornamentation. They have an attractive yellow color that varies with the copper content. They are very resistant to staining which helps them to last a long time.
Copper can be recycled without loss of quality. About 40% of Europe’s needs are met from recycled copper. For more information, see the Copper Recycling and Sustainability resources.
Copper can act as a catalyst – meaning a substance that can speed up a chemical reaction and improve its efficiency. It does so by reducing the activation energy. Catalysts in biological reactions are called enzymes. The catalyst speeds up the reaction between zinc and dilute sulfuric acid. It is found in several enzymes, one of which is involved in respiration. That’s really an important factor! Read more: why is my cat following me | Top Q&A
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