Copper - the metal and the mineral

Posted by Maryanne Fender on

Copper Facts

  1.   Copper is a mineral and an element essential to our everyday lives. It is a major industrial metal because of its high ductility, malleability, thermal and electrical conductivity and resistance to corrosion. It is an essential nutrient in our daily diet. And, its antimicrobial property is becoming increasingly important to the prevention of infection. It ranks third after iron and aluminum in terms of quantities consumed in the USA.
  2. Pure copper's melting point is 1,981°F (1,083°C, 1356°K). Its most important properties include superior heat transfer, electrical conductivity and corrosion resistance.
  3. Bronze is harder than pure iron and far more resistant to corrosion. Bronze is also harder than pure copper, so the Egyptians used it for weapons, armor, tools and, most famously, sculptures. It is particularly well suited for sculpture because it expands when heated (filling the nooks and crannies of a mold), then contracts as it cools so the sculpture is easy to remove from the mold. 
  4.   Copper is man's oldest metal, dating back more than 10,000 years. A copper pendant discovered in what is now northern Iraq goes back to about 8700 B.C.
  5. Copper is believed to have been used first by Neolithic man as a substitute for stone around 8000 B.C. The science of metallurgy emerged when copper was heated and mold-casted into shapes in Egypt around 4000 B.C. In 3500 B.C., fire and charcoal were used to smelt ores, and copper was alloyed with tin to create bronze, giving rise to the Bronze Age.
  6. Copper metallurgy flourished in South America, particularly in Peru, around the beginning of the first millennium AD. Ceremonial and ornamental objects show the use of hammering and annealing (heating and cooling to soften and temper the metal). Copper was most commonly alloyed with gold and silver during the time when the Mayans, Incans and Aztecs reigned in Central and South America.
  7. Zebra mussels, brought to North America on freighters from Europe, are kept from clogging the water intakes of power companies around the Great Lakes through the use of copper alloy screens that reject their attachment and impede growth. Copper sulfate crystals are used to treat the water in other infested areas.
  8. The first copper deposit worked extensively in America (by non-native Americans) is located in Granby, Connecticut. It was operated from 1705 until 1770.
  9. The penny contains only 2.6% copper. In 1982, the U.S. Mint converted production of the 95% copper penny to a predominantly zinc alloy, but coated it with copper to preserve its appearance.
  10. Copper is the standard benchmark for electrical conductivity. It conducts electrical current better than any other metal except silver.
  11. HDSL (High-Speed Digital Subscriber Line) and ADSL (Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line) technologies enable telephone companies to capitalize on existing copper lines and for businesses to accommodate lower-cost communications and networking options - without having to switch to high-cost fiber optics. The technology also allows for voice and data transmissions to be conducted simultaneously on the copper phone