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Copper – A Tribute To The World

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by - 12/2/2015 7417 Views

Recycling Copper

For nearly 5,000 years, copper was the only metal known to man. Today, it's one of the most used and reused of our "modern" metals. Copper has an infinite recyclable life and interesting to note that copper by any of its alloys, such as brass or bronze, is used over and over again. The recycling rate of Copper is much higher than that of any other engineering metal.

In the U.S., Copper recovered from recycled material is equivalent to the derived Copper from newly mined ore. The amount of copper used by copper and brass mills, ingot makers, foundries, powder plants and other industries shows that nearly three-fourths (72%) comes from recycled copper scrap.

The recycling value of Copper is so great that the premium-grade scrap normally has at least 95% of the value of the primary metal from newly mined ore. The ability to reuse copper extracted from recycled product is one of the greatest tributes to an industry that's environmentally conscious regarding its use of natural resources on behalf of consumers.

Copper Scrap Value

Usually, pure copper is used for electrical applications. It is essential that purity is maintained in order to ensure high conductivity, consistency and freedom from breaks during rod production and subsequent wire drawing. Since the applied enamel layers are thin but have to withstand voltage, they must have no surface flaws; consequently the basis copper wire must have an excellent surface quality. Primary copper of the best grade is used for producing the rod for this work. Uncontaminated recycled Copper scrap and other scrap that has been electrolytically refined back to grade 'A' quality may also be used.

Other Copper Alloys

High conductivity copper can be recycled by simple melting and check analysis before casting, either to finished shape or for subsequent fabrication. However, this normally only applies to process scrap arising within a copper works. Where copper has been contaminated and it is required to re-refine it, it is normally remelted and cast to anode shape so that it can be electrolytically refined. If, however, the level of impurities in the cast anode is significant, it is unlikely that the cathode produced will then meet the very high standards required of grade 'A' copper used for the production of fine wires.

Where copper and copper alloy scraps are very contaminated and unsuitable for simple remelting, they can be recycled by other means to recover the copper either as the metal or to give some of the many copper compounds essential for use in industry and agriculture. This is the usual practice for recovery of useable copper in slag, dross or mill scale arising from production processes or from life-expired assemblies of components containing useful quantities of copper.

Product Value

If the Copper scrap is pure and has not been contaminated, a high quality product can be derived from it. Similarly, if scrap consists only of one alloy composition it is easier to remelt to a good quality product, although there may have to be some adjustment of composition on remelting.

If Copper scrap is mixed, contaminated but no harmful impurities, it is usually possible to adjust composition by the addition of more lead or tin to make leaded bronzes. For some scrap contaminated with undesirable impurities it is sometimes possible to dilute it when melting so that the impurity level comes within an acceptable specification. All these techniques retain much of the value of the scrap. The way in which alloys can be made from scrap is shown in simplified diagrammatic form in the figure.

Where Copper scrap has been contaminated beyond acceptable limits it is necessary to re-refine it back to pure copper using conventional secondary metal refining techniques that provide a useful supplement to supplies of primary copper.

Transforming The Scrap

 The process of transforming unalloyed copper scrap into new copper products begins with purchasing copper scrap from a national network of scrap processors and brokers. No. 1 scrap consists of clean, unalloyed, and uncoated copper solids, clippings, punchings, bus bars, commutator segments, clean pipe and tubing. No.2 copper scrap is the same but may include oxidized or coated/plated pieces including oxidized or coated copper wire free of excessive oxidation.

Initially when Copper scrap is received for recycling it is visually inspected and graded, and analyzed chemically and then Secondly, if necessary, loose scrap is baled and stored until needed. No. 1 Copper scrap is directly melted and in some cases brought to higher purity while molten (fire refined).

Copper alloys are also recycled. Alloy scrap has to be separated, kept clean and identified so that the alloying elements and impurity content of each batch are known. Scrap of unknown composition may be melted and analyzed to determine its composition. Alloy recycling is then accomplished by melting together batches of scrap of known composition, perhaps along with virgin material, carefully compounded so that the recycled material has the alloy composition desired.

Users of Scrap

The drawback for using recycled copper is that it may contain trace impurities that negatively impact its properties. As a result, some applications require newly mined, or primary copper or scrap copper that has been re-smelted and re-refined. The most important of these applications is high conductivity wire.

Ingot producers and large captive foundries have traditionally been large consumers of used copper/brass automotive radiators. This material conveniently provides copper, zinc, tin and lead units in relative amounts that are ideal for production of the approximately 100,000 short tons of red-brass and semi-red brass alloy ingots. About half of this ingot material is used for plumbing valves and fittings in the U.S., a distinctly different picture than in Europe where yellow brass (copper-zinc alloys) predominates in plumbing products.


It is estimated that throughout history about 1000 billion pounds of copper have been mined till date, with the majority of it being still in use today. The copper and copper alloy industries rely on the fact that Copper scrap is easily and economically used and reused.

Category : Copper

Tags : Copper Scrap, Copper Scrap Price, Copper Scrap Market, Recycling Copper Scrap, Copper Scrap Benefits

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About Georgy Abraham

As the bright morning of 28th May dawned in the year 1972, in the fulfillment of time according to the plan & will of Almighty Godbrought me forth into this world and I was brought up & educated in Orissa. My parents provided me with the best of education in an English medium school with high standa .... more info


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