What are common uses of copper?
Approximately 65% of copper produced is used for electrical
applications. Copper has the highest electrical conductivity of any
metal, apart from silver or gold, leading to applications in:
- Power generation and transmission - generators, transformers,
motors, busbars and cables provide and deliver electricity safely
and efficiently to homes and businesses.
- Electrical equipment - providing circuitry, wiring and contacts
for PCs, TVs and mobile phones.
Copper has a key role to play in energy efficiency - the
judicious use of 1 tonne of copper in the energy sector makes it
possible to reduce CO2 emissions by 200 tonnes per year on
25% of all the copper produced is used in buildings - for
plumbing, roofing and cladding. Copper provides light, durable
maintenance-free structures that are naturally good looking, long
lasting and fully recyclable. Copper's naturally antimicrobial
properties can be exploited in hygienic surfaces for hospitals and
Trains, trams, cars and lorries all need copper and transport
accounts for 7% of copper usage. The high purity copper wire
harness system carries the current from the battery throughout the
vehicle to equipment such as lights, central locking, on-board
computers and satellite navigation systems. Electric super trams in
cities such as Manchester, Sheffield and Croydon, provide clean,
efficient transport powered by electric motors. The overhead
contact wires are either copper-silver or copper-cadmium
Copper has known antibacterial effects, and surfaces made with
copper or its alloys can help to reduce the spread of disease.
The remaining 3% is used for coins, sculptures, musical
instruments and cookware.