Copper is a base metal that is used in thousands of copper products to build components such as motors, transformers or cables that are used in systems such as technical installations in buildings, electricity grids or renewable power plants. In these systems, copper provides significant benefits in use:
- Energy efficiency: copper sets the standard for electrical conductivity. Copper's conductivity is only surpassed by silver (at much higher cost). Copper performs 50% better than gold, and 66% better than the next practical alternative - aluminium. And considering that thermal conductivity in metals correlates well with electrical conductivity, copper is also a good conductor of heat.
- Circularity: since 80% of copper is used in its unalloyed form, it is relatively easy to recycle. As for more complex waste streams, copper's electrochemical properties allow it to reduce most unwanted impurities to the ppm level.
- Compactness: copper's compactness saves 8 - 25% on other materials in machine design, compared to aluminium designs with the same efficiency.
- Safety: copper is present in nearly all contact applications. Copper's mechanical properties ensure durable contacts and avoid safety hazards in electrical installations.
- Longevity & reliability: copper conductors and connectors seldom fail. When performance matters, copper is used, extending the lifetime of equipment and systems.
Copper's sustainability needs to be considered over its full life cycle, considering its potential impacts in production, its benefits in use and its contribution to circularity at the end of its first life in components and systems.
Last update: June 30, 2023