Main uses of copper
Approximately 65% of copper produced is used for electrical applications. Copper has the highest electrical conductivity of any metal, apart from silver, leading to applications in:
- Power generation and transmission - motors, generators and transformers provide and deliver electricity safely and efficiently to homes and businesses. As newer, larger offices are built requiring air conditioning and ventilation systems, the demand for copper wire increases further.
- Electrical equipment providing circuitry, wiring and contacts for PCs, TVs and mobile phones.
25% of all the copper produced is used in buildings, for plumbing, roofing and cladding.
Copper provides light, durable maintenance-free structures that are naturally good looking, long lasting and fully recyclable.
Copper was first used by the ancient Egyptians for water piping; samples taken from a temple dated 2750 BC are still in good condition. Copper was also used by the Romans as water pipes and cisterns.
Trains, trams, cars and lorries all need copper and transport accounts for 7% of copper usage.
The high purity copper wire harness system carries the current from the battery throughout the vehicle to equipment such as lights, central locking, on board computers and satellite navigation systems. Electric motors, which are wound with high conductivity wire, are used in many of these devices. The average car contains about 1km of wire.
Electric super trams in cities such as Manchester, Sheffield and Croydon, provide clean, efficient transport powered by electric motors. The overhead contact wires are either copper-silver or copper-cadmium alloys.