There's Copper in THAT? 5 Surprising Uses for Copper in Calgary
You might not know it, but there is copper all around you. Copper is a ductile chemical element that is capable of conducting electricity. It was used for thousands of years to build roofs and doors and make jewelry and is now used in many of our electronic devices and appliances. It is so essential that all living things depend on it to survive. It runs through our blood, and is dense in our liver, muscles and bones.
Because this element is so frequently used, it raises the question: "What if we run out?" Luckily, there are more than 1,000 tons in the earth's crust and it is one of the most reusable resources on earth. So, what do we use it for and how does it work?
Copper and aluminum are metals that are able to move charged particles (electrons) in multiple directions, which means they are good conductors. This ability to conduct electricity makes them suitable for so many of the things we use every day.
Thank goodness for copper – without it, we all might starve to death. It is copper that makes microwaves zap our food warm, helps refrigerators keep our food cool, and dishwashers to get our cookware clean. Not only that, copper is what makes indoor plumbing and electricity possible. Because all our appliances run on some form of electricity, they all rely on copper to work.
Copper makes reading this blog post possible – whether you are using your computer or mobile device. It takes about .5 ounces of copper to build a mobile phone, far surpassing the amount of any other metal in it. As the technology of our cell phones and electronics advances, the demands on copper continue to grow.
Copper allows more responsive technology through increased operating speeds while minimizing demands on your battery. This means you can surf the net from your smartphone without running out of battery power. Copper is now the go-to element in most advanced information systems like circuit boards and computer chips.
If you use high-speed internet, you are receiving your Internet through copper wire. Not only can it send the information faster and more efficiently, it also prevents unwanted signals from traveling back to the source. This is why copper is the trusted element used in highly secure information systems like the NSA.
Its ability to block unwanted radio waves from escaping or permeating an enclosed area is what protects medical equipment in hospitals from malfunctioning and unauthorized operators from spying. Who knew such a soft metal could offer such security?
Medical technologies use copper because it is a biostatic material. Biostatic means that bacteria are unable to grow on its surface. Studies show using copper in place of silver reduced hospital-acquired infections by nearly 60%. While it aids in preventing sickness to healthy individuals, it can also help diagnose ill patients.
Just like its numerous applications in your home, copper in medical equipment makes medical imaging equipment like X-rays, CAT scans, and MRIs a possibility.
Okay, copper is great, but unfortunately, it can't bring world peace. In fact, we even make weapons out of it. As one of the most malleable metals, it was first used to mold tools for hunting and replaced stones as the weapon of choice.
Copper was used in ancient civilizations to help make knives, spears and arrows to help feed and protect their citizens. It is still used in the weapons and tools that we make today, although other stronger, denser metals like lead and steel are typically used in the majority of modern equipment, weapons, and tools.
Wouldn't it be great if we could harness the power of the sun and the wind to produce alternate forms of energy? Copper is part of what makes solar and wind power possible. Due to copper's conductivity, solar panels and wind turbines are able to capture and store the energy omitted from the sun and wind and transform it into storable electricity. Copper is a reliable transmitter of energy and the preferred metal used to effectively store electricity in batteries as well as grid systems.
Imagine plugging an enormous battery into a gigantic outlet to recharge. This is essentially the process of storing renewable energy, only we use outlets like the sun along with large scale grids and generators as batteries.
Copper has been helping power batteries since the 1800s. It has been a functioning source of stored energy for all this time. Modern advances in technology simply took the same idea to a global scale, helping us to create economical, earth-friendly, and reusable forms of energy to power all of the essential everyday appliances and electronics we depend on.
It seems that copper is all around us. It helps make modern life possible, saves lives, and protects the environment. Maybe next time you run your dishwasher, make a call on your cell phone, or go to the doctor, you'll think about that magical metal – copper.