The metal Copper and its alloys have been in use for thousands of years; it was discovered in prehistoric times. One of the most useful properties of copper is the fact that it is so easy to bend and shape. Copper (Cu), with an atomic number of 29, is a highly ductile metal and it is well known for its ability to conduct both electricity and heat. For this reason, it is often used in alloys, such as brass and bronze. The element is soft and malleable and it can be recognised by its reddish hue. In fact, it is one of just four metal elements with a colour other than grey or silver.
When copper is mixed with paint and used on the underside of ships, it prevents seaweed, barnacles and algae from sticking to the vessel. However while the metal does not react with water, copper does react with oxygen in the air to form a layer of dark brown copper oxide. Green copper carbonate is often observed on old copper structures. Like aluminium, copper is recyclable without any loss of quality. Up to approximately 80% of total copper that has been mined is still used today.
Clearly, with its properties of thermal and electrical conductivity, copper alloys are highly sought after and used in a wide range of industries:
- Electrical – copper is used a lot in the electrical industry.
- Pipes and plumbing
- Fuel and gas
- Seawater applications
|The Properties of Copper|
|Mineral:||most commonly found as chalcopyrite|
|Hardness:||2.5-3 on Mohs scale|