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While there are many purposes for copper’s properties in everyday life, here are some of the most noteworthy facts about copper:
- Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu. Atomic Number: 29. Atomic Weight: 63.546 AMU (atomic mass unit).
- Copper comes from the Latin word cuprum, meaning “from the island of Cyprus.”
- Copper is man’s oldest metal, dating back more than 10,000 years. A copper pendant discovered in what is now northern Iraq has been dated to about 8,700 B.C.
- The Egyptians had so many uses for copper that they used the ankh symbol to denote copper in their system of hieroglyphs. Copper also represented eternal life in their culture.
- The physical properties of copper are one of its most unique features. Other than gold, copper is the only metal that has natural colour. Other metals are either gray or white.
- Copper can be recycled without any loss in properties, making it a logical choice in an era of global sustainability.
- Over 400 copper alloys are in use today. Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc, while bronze is an alloy of copper, tin, aluminum, silicon, and beryllium.
- Copper is vital to the health of humans, animals, and plants and an essential part of the human diet. Copper-rich foods include dried beans, almonds, broccoli, chocolate, garlic, soybeans, peas, whole wheat products, and seafood.
- Copper maximizes the performance of the products that contain it, helping save energy, CO2, money, and lives.
- Copper is a vital, positive contributor to humankind and has improved our quality of life for centuries.
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Copper The Metal
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.
Known land-based resources of copper are estimated to be 1.6 billion metric tons of copper (USGS, 2004). United States copper production largely comes from deposits in Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, and Montana. Twenty mines account for about 99% of production.
Copper is element number 29 on the Periodic Table of Elements. It is considered a semi-precious, non-ferrous, malleable metal with many hundreds of applications in the areas of electricity and electronics, plumbing, building construction and architecture, industry, transportation, and consumer and health products.
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.
Copper is easily alloyed with other metals. Currently, there are more than 570 copper alloys listed with the American Society for Testing and Materials International. They are identified by numbers preceded by a “C” and are assigned and reviewed by the Copper Development Association for ASTM. More than 350 of them have been acknowledged by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as antimicrobial.*
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