Copper Occurrence Use and alloys – Metalurgy

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Occurrence of Copper


i)     Copper pyrite, CuFeS2.

ii)    Cuprite or Ruby copper, Cu2O.

iii)    Copper glance, Cu2S.

The chief ore of copper is copper pyrite. It yields nearly 76% of the world production of copper.

Use of Copper

  • Historically, copper was the first metal to be worked by people. The discovery that it could be hardened with a little tin to form the alloy bronze gave the name to the Bronze Age.
  • Traditionally in old age it has been one of the metals used to make coins, along with silver and gold.
  • Most copper is used in electrical equipment such as wiring and motors. This is because it conducts both heat and electricity very well, and can be drawn into wires.
  • Copper sulfate is used widely as an agricultural poison.
  • Copper alloys used in jewellery: Copper is an easily molded base metal that is often added to precious metals to improve their elasticity, flexibility, hardness, colour, and resistance to corrosion.
  • Medical uses for copper: As the Egyptians documented, copper is known to kill many germs on contact.

Copper Alloys

There are more than 400 copper alloys, each with a unique combination of properties, to suit many applications, high quality requirements, manufacturing processes and environments.

BrassCu 60 – 80%
Zn 40 – 20%
Bronz Cu 60 – 80%
Sn 40 – 20%
Cupper-NickelCopper-nickel alloys have excellent resistance to marine corrosion. The addition of nickel to copper improves strength and corrosion resistance, but good ductility is retained.
GunmetalGun metal, Cu = 85%, Zn = 4%, Sn =8%, Pb =3%
have been used for at least 2,000 years due to their ease of casting, and good strength and corrosion resistance.

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