Humans have used many natural resources to maintain and advance society such as water, trees and oil. However, copper is one of society’s largest contributors. It is also a vital product for all types of applications. Due to the material’s chemical, visual and physical properties, people use it for technological, domestic and industrial purposes. Furthermore, copper is malleable, resistant to corrosion and an ideal conductor of electricity and heat.
Archaeologists have found artifacts proving that people began using copper at least 10,000 years ago. In fact, copper was one of the first metals that people used when man discovered how to extract and use copper to produce implements and ornaments. In western Asia, primitive people made coins and decorations from the product while Egyptians sterilized water and treated infections with it. Spain discovered a way to extract the metal as early as the 3rd and 4th millennium BC.
The Bronze Age came about when it was discovered that we could alloy copper with tin to make bronze. In addition, China, Japan and India produced many products with copper during the Middle Ages while inventors discovered its benefits in electricity and magnetism in the later years of the 18th century and the first few years of the 19th century which helped start the industrial revolution.
Copper and Recycling
Copper is a metal recycling material that is recycled successfully and often. Moreover, the recycled product cannot be distinguished from a principal copper source after recyclers have reprocessed the material. By recycling the product, people can increase its efficiency and provide energy savings. Copper recycling also ensures that future generations have a sustainable metal for later use.
Copper producers mine the metal when the right conditions occur. Specifically, producers review geological, financial and environmental circumstances before removing the product from the ground. Copper companies have three main mining methods, which include leaching, surface and underground. However, open pit mining is the method that companies use the most. Once workers have taken ore from a source, most mining companies refine it with a chemical method called flotation. The process crushes and grinds the product. Other refining techniques include the use of solvents as well as electro winning. In electro winning, the material is processed through solvent extraction. After the product is refined, the mining company sends it to a fabricator, which forms it into powder, wire, rods and strips as well as castings and sheets.
Main Uses of Copper
Copper is one of the best materials for electrical components because it faces less resistance than other metals used in the equipment. The material is strong and supple. Furthermore, it is a crucial element in motors, transformers and energy efficient generators.
Electronics and communication systems also benefit from copper. The product permits telecommunication companies to run cables that provide Internet service and telephone communication. Also, in electronic equipment, companies add the material to connectors, switches and transformers.
Construction is another area that requires copper. For example, construction companies use it for plumbing, fittings and valves. In addition, copper constructed indoor sprinkler systems resist corrosion and are durable. When construction companies use copper doorknobs, they decrease the transfer of germs and microbes in buildings.
Transportation companies use copper in motors, brakes and radiators while manufacturers of industrial machinery and equipment need the material to make gears, turbine blades and bearings. Moreover, governments around the world use copper to make currency.
In metal recycling, copper is one of the only products that does not break down or lose its physical or chemical properties. When you send recyclable materials, such as copper, to a scrap metal yard, you are extending the world’s resources as the company will sell it to a recycling agency. Furthermore, the reprocessing method decreases waste and energy use. Therefore, the process of copper recycling is necessary and advantageous to mankind.