Due to their intrinsic properties, metals are widely used in the building and construction sector. They are a first choice material for structures, reinforcements, cladding, roofing, window frames, plumbing, heating equipment and many other applications. Metals can be found in old and historic buildings as well as in new, modern architecture.
When good heat transfer is essential, as in vehicle radiators, copper and brass are excellent choices due to their high thermal conductivity and ease of brazing, especially in thin sheets.
A high-purity copper wire harness system carries current from the battery throughout a vehicle to equipment such as lights, central locking, onboard computers and satellite navigation systems. Electric motors, which are wound with high conductivity wire, are also used in many vehicles. The average car contains about 1 km of wire.
Copper chromium (CC101) – conductivity is 80% IACS – strength good up to 400°C.
It reduces by about 3%.
An alloy with 89% copper, 5% aluminium, 5% zinc and 1% tin. 10, 20 and 50 Euro cent coins use this alloy.
Bright copper, pre-oxidised copper, pre-patinated copper or post-patinated copper. Copper surfaces can also be supplied embossed, hammered or perforated to offer a textured, or light-changing finish.
ECI / Leonardo ENERGY, September 2014
ECI / Leonardo ENERGY, December 2012
Copper strip and wire may be produced with a combination of high elastic limit and good corrosion resistance, making them an ideal choice for springs. The main groups of alloys are:
- Phosphor bronze, typically CW451K (PB102) with a yield strength of about 500N/mm2.
- Nickel silver, typically CW409J (NS106). This is silver coloured and has excellent tarnish resistance.
- Copper beryllium CW100C (CB101). This alloy is used where very high yield strength is required (greater than 1000N/mm2). These alloys are expensive and phosphor bronze will be adequate for most engineering applications.
A useful Specification is BS EN 1654:1998 (Copper and copper alloys. Strip for springs and connectors).
The French scientist Millardet – while seeking a cure for downy mildew-diseased vines in the Bordeaux district of France – chanced to notice that those vines bordering the highways, which had been daubed with a paste of copper sulphate and lime in water in order to make the grapes unattractive to passers-by, appeared freer of downy mildew. This chance observation led to experiments with mixtures of copper sulphate, lime and water, and in 1885 Millardet announced to the world that he had found a cure for the dreaded mildew. This became known as Bordeaux mixture and saw the commencement of protective crop spraying.
Copper and copper-nickel tubes are used for vehicle brake pipes due to their good fatigue and corrosion resistance (especially against salt on the roads), where fluid loss could be disastrous. Because of their ductility, they are easy to fit; they are standard equipment for many cars, fire engines, military vehicles, JCBs and other heavy vehicles.