Surprising Everyday Uses of Copper

July 3, 2024

A penny for your thoughts? Not without copper. Copper is an essential metal that serves seemingly endless purposes in the modern world—often unnoticed but indispensable. Batteries. Pipes. Wiring. And, yes, pennies. The metal exists almost everywhere. Its versatility can be found in things as ubiquitous as jewelry and electronics to advanced lifesaving medical equipment, making it a true cornerstone of everyday life. 

Copper is more ubiquitous than ever, making sustainable mining practices pivotal to ensuring continued availability and reducing environmental impacts. Ventures like Nuton are so important to the future of copper mining, utilizing technologies like bioheap leaching that simultaneously help meet the massive demand for copper while minimizing environmental impact.

How Copper is Used in Our Daily Lives

Imagine a typical day; as you brew your coffee, copper pipes ensure that water flows safely through your coffee maker, delivering your morning buzz. During your morning commute, the car’s electronics and motors rely on copper to power the engine. Smartphones and computers, containing intricate copper circuitry, keep you connected to the world. The electrical grid and telecommunications network – even the satellites orbiting Earth – all rely on copper wire and components to connect calls. Later, as you prepare dinner, copper cookware evenly distributes heat to your food. From dawn to dusk, copper presents itself in countless ways. This reddish-brown metal appears in ways you might not immediately recognize.

Family enjoying making dinner together.

Top Uses for Copper

Copper finds myriad applications across various industries due to its unique properties. Its conductivity, durability, malleability, and antimicrobial nature make it indispensable to many industries. Here are some key ways copper is used across different sectors:

Reliable Power Transmission in Electrical Applications

Copper provides the foundation for power transmission systems; it is a premier conductor of electricity, second only to silver. Its extensive application in copper wire, transformers, and electrical grids ensures the seamless flow of energy, which is vital for powering our communities.

Moreover, copper’s role extends to the intricate circuitry of printed circuit boards (PCBs) within electronic devices, where its conductivity allows efficient energy transfer and reliable performance. Copper is even essential in components used by electrical engineers, like busbars, electric motors, switch gears, and circuit breakers.

Antimicrobial Control, Power Transmission, and Radio Frequency Shielding in Medical Application

Copper is a crucial element in the medical field, serving multiple purposes. Its antimicrobial properties make it useful for creating surfaces that aid in infection control within healthcare settings; some hospitals are starting to adopt antimicrobial copper touch surfaces to help create sterile environments.

Additionally, copper’s durability and biocompatibility make it an optimal choice for crafting medical instruments and tools. Copper circuitry delivers power to medical electronics, contributing to their functionality and reliability.

Furthermore, in advanced medical technologies like MRI rooms, copper is sometimes utilized in radio frequency shielding that lines the walls and ceilings. Copper even helps power active implantable medical devices, extending the lives of millions.

Thermal Conductivity and Energy Conversion in Industrial Machinery

Copper’s properties lend themselves to crucial applications in industrial machinery and enhance efficiency in various industrial processes. Delocalized electrons within copper’s solid lattice structure have the freedom to move unrestricted, effectively transporting heat. This unique property transforms copper into a highly efficient conductor, facilitating heat flow across its surface. This exceptional thermal conductivity makes it indispensable in regulating temperature in heat exchangers.

Copper plays a pivotal role in electric motors and generators, facilitating efficient energy conversion and powering essential machinery for production and operation. Copper enables countless industrial machines—hydraulic presses, mills, cement mixers, and high-power lasers—to operate more efficiently.

Longevity and Weather-Resistance in Construction Materials

Copper is a versatile construction material with numerous applications. Copper pipes ensure durable and reliable plumbing systems, while copper roofing materials provide weather-resistant solutions that protect structures and enhance architectural aesthetics. Copper does not rust, but it will develop a patina and darken over time when exposed to the elements. Due to its malleability and corrosion resistance, the metal is utilized in architectural elements like railings and gutters. Its applications extend to artistic sculptures and, statue building. We can all name at least one very famous and iconic statue made from copper.

Other Applications: Jewelry, Tools, Musical Instruments, and More

These top uses for copper only scratch the surface. There are seemingly endless applications for copper, ranging from jewelry-making to tool manufacturing. Its aesthetic appeal and durability make it ideal for crafting intricate designs and sturdy equipment like cookware and heat sinks. In musical instruments, copper alloys like brass contribute to creating distinctive tones, enriching musical experiences. Copper is also important for currency production and textile manufacturing.

Sustainable Copper Mining Facilitates a Better Future

As demand for copper increases, it becomes crucial to ensure our access to copper is sustainable. Innovations in mining technologies, such as those pioneered by Nuton, are at the forefront of this endeavor, striving to meet the growing demand for copper while minimizing its ecological footprint.

To discover more about Nuton’s transformative technologies and their impact on the industry, delve deeper into the Nuton process and explore the possibilities for a sustainable future.