Did you know that the largest one time use of copper was in making the Statue of Liberty? Around 80 tons of copper was used in building the structure which stands till today. Copper has played a really important role in the advancement of human beings. It was the first metal they discovered as it was available naturally, and used for making tools which pulled them out of the Stone Age. In the modern age it has many uses which make it a very useful metal.
Applications of Copper
Application in Architecture – Copper was earlier used heavily in the construction industry. The reason was the light weight, strength and water proof nature. It was also used to make pipes and lightning rods. In the modern building industry it is less used because of the cost considerations, but its use as a lightening conductor still continues. The high conductivity nature makes it easy to ground the lightning which is very harmful for a multi storey building.
Application in the Industry – Copper is very ductile and hence can be easily shaped into various forms. It is the third most used metal in industry next to iron and aluminum. Shipbuilding industry uses copper alloy with nickel to make the structure rust proof. This alloy of copper is resistant to corrosion and has high heat dissipating capability, and was reason for using it in making the fire box of Watt’s engine. When heated to liquefy it can preserve wood and return structures to original forms.
Application in Electricity – More than fifty percent of copper is used in the electrical industry due to its excellent electricity conducting property. It is used in both transmission and generation of electricity. The shiny red metal is used in generators, motors, and transformers and also in making high voltage transmission wires. It is also used in general wiring and electrical equipment manufacture. It forms and integral part of mobile phones, television, computers and other modern electrical equipments. The electrical conduction makes it the best choice for electrical transmission and heat generation. It is also used to make magnetrons and vacuum tubes.
Daily Application – The metal is used in many articles in the house like door knobs, Copper utensils (Used extensively for plating cooking ware) and heaters. It is also used as a pigment for sculptures, decorative art and statutes.
Application in Biology – Copper is an essential trace element required by plants and animals. Traces of the element are found in bones, lever and other tissues in a living being. It is also a co-factor for production of enzymes. The anti-bacterial properties of copper were well known by our ancestors. They used copper for treating wounds and cuts because of the anti-bacterial property. Now even modern medical science uses copper as surfaces in hospitals to reduce the chance of infection. It is a critical element in production of melanin the coloring element which makes our hair color.
Copper is also used to make useful alloys like bronze with tin. When mixed with zinc it makes brass. It can be combined with many other metals and non-metals to make very useful combinations. This alloying can increase and decreases some properties of copper. For instance brass becomes more malleable. It is a metal the use of which will continue with progress in technology.