74 Fantastic Copper Facts You Might Need in School

by Virupakshi
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elemental copper - Copper facts

Last time we wrote about Nickel. The next element after nickel on the Period Table is copper. So today, we are going to learn some interesting copper facts. In total you can find 74 copper facts on this list. They are grouped in different categories to help you quickly scan through whatever you need.

In case you think that we did not include everything, that is primarily because we want to keep it simple and discard the difficult scientific concepts now. Anyway, this is a facts site and we are more focused on giving you facts that you can use in your school projects. This isn’t an advanced chemistry class for you!

Basic Copper Facts: 1-14

1. The atomic number of Copper is 29. Atomic weight of copper is 63.546.

2. The symbol of Copper is Cu as ‘Co’ symbol is already designated to cobalt which comes earlier than copper in the periodic table.

3. To avoid confusion, IUPAC gave ‘Cu’ symbol to copper which is derived from either Latin’s ‘Cuprum’ or ancient Greek’s ‘Kupros’.

4. Copper belongs to d-block of the Periodic Table. It is a transition metal. It belongs to the group 11 and period 4.

Electron Shell of Copper - Copper Facts
Electron Configuration of Copper

5. Its electronic configuration is [Ar] 3d10 4s1 or 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 3d10 4s1.

6. It is a solid at STP (Standard conditions for Temperature and Pressure). It is reddish-orange in color with metallic luster.

7. It has a density of 8.96 g/cm3 when it is solid.

8. It has a melting point of 1357.77 K ​ or 1084.62 °C or ​1984.32 °F.

9. It has a boiling point of 2835 K ​or 2562 °C or ​4643 °F.

10. It has an atomic radius of 128 pm or picometers. 

11. It has a primordial natural occurrence.

12. The crystalline structure of copper is face-centered-cubic.

13. It has Mohs hardness of 3.0.

14. It is a diamagnetic metal meaning copper is repelled by the magnetic field.

Isotopes of Copper

Okay, now that we have the basic facts, let us take a quick look into the isotopes of copper. There are quite a lot! Out of 29 total isotopes, only two are stable. The rest are all radioactive. Take a look at the table below:

Name of the IsotopeType and AbundanceHalf-Life (HL)
52CuRadioactiveN/A
53CuRadioactive<300 ns
54CuRadioactive<75 ns
55CuRadioactive40 ms
56CuRadioactive93 ms
57CuRadioactive196.7 ms
58CuRadioactive3.2 s
59CuRadioactive81.5 s
60CuRadioactive23.7 min
61CuRadioactive3.33 h
62CuRadioactive9.67 min
63CuStable (69.17% abundance)Stable, so no half-life
64CuRadioactive12.7 h
65CuStable (30.83% abundance)Stable, so no half-life
66CuRadioactive5.12 m
67CuRadioactive61.83 h
68CuRadioactive31.1 s
69CuRadioactive2.85 m
70CuRadioactive44.5 s
71CuRadioactive19.4 s
72CuRadioactive6.6 s
73CuRadioactive4.2 s
74CuRadioactive1.59 s
75CuRadioactive1.22 s
76CuRadioactive641 ms
77CuRadioactive469 ms
78CuRadioactive342 ms
79CuRadioactive188 ms
80CuRadioactive100 ms

Reference:

ns: nanoseconds

ms: milliseconds

s: seconds

m: minutes

d: days

Copper Facts: History of Discovery: 15-30

15. History of using copper dates back to 9000 BCE. A copper pendant was the earliest specimen of copper found till date. It was found in modern-day Iraq and it dates back to around 8700 BCE.

16. Gold and meteoric iron are the only two metals that were used before copper.

17. It is believed that copper smelting was discovered in China at around 2800 BCE, in Central America around 600 CE, in West Africa in 9th or 10th century CE.

18. Investment casting was invented in Southeast Asia around 4500 to 4000 BCE.

19. Ötzi the Iceman, a preserved fossil was found in South Tyrol’s Ötztal Alps. The fossil dates back to 3300 to 3200 BCE. He is believed to be involved in copper smelting because of the presence of arsenic in his hair.

replica of otzi axe
Replica of Otzi Axe | By Bullenwächter – Own work modified by User:120, CC BY 3.0, Link

20. Not just that, archaeologists also found an ax (or axe) that has a copper head. The copper used in making the head of the ax is 99.7% pure.

21. With copper smelting, iron smelting also came into the picture. Bronze, an alloy primarily made out of copper and tin, was also being used.

22. Bronze artifacts have been made in many cultures like Indus Valley, Sumerian, and Egyptian civilizations, etc.

23. Usage of copper slightly decreased due to the beginning of Iron Age.

24. Greeks called copper as chalkos and Romans used the term ‘aes Cyprium’ for copper. Latin term for copper was Cyprium.

25. The word cyprium was derived from Cyprus where copper was mined. Cyprium later changed to cuprum and finally copper was used in English.

26. Thanks to copper’s lustrous shine and beauty, it is associated with Venus or Aphrodite, the Goddess of beauty.

27. Seven celestial bodies were associated with seven known metals of that time and Venus was associate with copper.

28. Britain started using copper later at around 3rd or 2nd century BCE. Americas started using it a little later. By 1000 CE, copper metallurgy flourished in South America.

29. Romans extensively used copper. Industrial Revolution was yet another time when copper was used extensively.

30. A copper mine in Sweden’s Falun known as the ‘Great Copper Mountain’ operated from 10th century to 1992.

Properties of Copper: 31-35

31. Copper has high ductility, thermal, and electrical conductivity. Copper metal is soft. It has the second-highest thermal conductivity in pure metals. The first spot is taken by silver.

32. In pure form, it has orange-red color. When exposed to air, copper gets a reddish tarnish. If other metals are in contact with copper, galvanic corrosion takes place.

33. Copper doesn’t react with water. It reacts with atmospheric oxygen slowly and forms a layer of copper oxide (brown-black color).

34. This layer stops further galvanic corrosion. A layer of copper carbonate (green color) is usually formed on old copper structures.

35. In presence of some ammonia compounds, copper produces blue pigments.

Copper Facts: Application: 36-49

36. Copper has been used in multiple ways from ancient ages to the modern world. Copper is used majorly in electrical wires (60%), plumbing and roofing (20%), and industrial machinery (15%).

37. 95% of the times copper is used as a pure metal and the rest 5% of the times it is used in making alloys like bronze or brass.

38. Copper is the most preferred electrical conductor in most of the electrical wiring works. It is used in power generation, telecommunications, power transmission, power distribution, electrical equipment, etc.

39. Over 50% of the copper mined is used for cable conductors and electrical wire.

40. Copper is preferred over most of the materials for electrical wiring. This is because of the properties of copper like high tensile strength, high thermal conductivity, high electrical conductivity, high deformation resistance, high corrosive resistance, low thermal expansion, ease of installation, etc.

41. Aluminum wiring replaced copper wiring for some time. However, cases of house fires increased a lot. Industries opted for copper wiring again.

42. Other electrical devices that use copper wiring are heat exchangers, integrated circuits, heat sinks, printed circuit boards, microwaves, etc. Electric motors also use copper.

43. Copper is used in architecture since eternity. Copper is used to make roofs, rain gutters, domes, spires, doors, vaults, etc.

44. Modern architecture uses copper for radio frequency shielding, exterior and interior wall cladding, decorative products like bathroom fixtures, counter tops, etc.

45. As microorganisms can’t grow on copper, it is used to line parts of ships and shipping products so that they can stay protected from mussels and barnacles.

46. Alloys of copper are antimicrobial and they are considered healthy. Nearly 335 copper alloys have the ability to wipe out 99.9% of harmful microorganisms within just 2 hours!

47.  EPA or United States Environmental Protection Agency approved the production of materials like sinks, door knobs, computer keyboards, handrails, etc. using these alloys.

48. The same copper alloy products are being installed in many countries like the UK, Japan, Korea, Brazil, Denmark, France, etc.

49. Many folk cultures use ornaments made by the copper to relieve them of arthritis symptoms. However, there is no evidence that proves that copper is absorbed through the skin. If that were the case, it would certainly lead to copper poisoning.

Biological Role of Copper: 50-55

50. Copper is essential for electron and oxygen transport. Aerobic respiration requires the presence of copper in the form of an enzyme in mitochondria.

51. It is an essential micro nutrient. Our body requires 1.4 to 2.1 mg of copper per kilogram of body mass.

52. Copper deficiency causes bone abnormalities, neutropenia, impaired growth, osteoporosis, abnormalities in the metabolism of glucose and cholesterol, increased vulnerability to infections, etc.

53. Copper is toxic but our body system removes any excess copper from our body.

54. Excess copper in the body causes cirrhosis in the liver, Wilson’s disease (genetic disorder, impairment in brain and liver), worsens the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, etc.

55. Recommendation limit of exposure to copper dust and fumes set by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is 1 mg/m3 (time-weighted average). The value that is immediately dangerous to life is 100 mg/m3 (time-weighted average).

Copper Facts: Availability and Abundance: 56-58

56. Copper is present in Earth’s crust and it is produced in massive stars. Copper is present at a proportion of 50 ppm (parts per million) in Earth’s crust. In the entire solar system, the proportion of copper is 700 parts per billion by weight.

57. Natural forms of copper are chalcolite, covellite, chalcopyrite, digenite, enargite, cuprite, tenorite, etc.

58. Keweenaw Peninsula present in Michigan, US had around 420 tons of copper! It was found in 1857.

Price of Copper – 59

59. A kilogram of pure copper costs $97.6 and a kilogram of bulk copper costs $6.6.

Copper Fun Facts: 60 – 74

copper ornamets
Ornament Made of Copper | CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

60. Addition of copper to gold produces rose gold or red gold.

61. Nearly 80% of the copper ever mined is still in use. Copper is completely a recyclable metal. 100% of it can be recycled.

62. Egyptians used the symbol of ankh from their hieroglyphs to denote copper.

63. Did you know that Statue of Liberty is made up of more than 80 tons of copper? This huge amount was mined from Visnes copper mining site of Norway.

64. On an average, a car contains around 22.5 kilograms of copper.

65. Copper is used for plating scalpel so that it can conduct electricity to heat the blade.

66. Copper provides protection from lightning and hence, earthing in homes is mostly done using copper.

67. The tools made from copper alloys do not produce any sparks and therefore, they are used in dangerous and potentially explosive areas.

68. Copper vessels are used to store nuclear waste. These canisters can remain operational for 100,000 years but they are expected to last five times longer.

69. Copper is also used in superconductors, wind turbines (around 30 tons of copper per turbine), and high-speed trains (20 tons of copper per train).

70. Copper is used in painting, fireworks, and making coins as well.

71. Colossus of Rhodes, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, was built during the third century BCE. It was made of bronze.

72. Professional chefs choose copper vessels to cook food because the heat distribution is uniform.

73. An average house contains 400 pounds of copper. Each and every gold item and jewelry contain copper. There is copper even in 24 karat gold bars. It is because of the fact that pure gold can be molded in our hands and adding copper prevents that from happening.

74. An average person uses around 1500 pounds of copper in the form of telephones, computers, etc.

Sources…

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