Copper and its alloys. Image credit

Copper and its alloys. Image credit

ZIMSEC O Level Combined Science Notes:Copper and its alloys

  • Copper is a common element found in the earth’s crust
  • It can occur as an element, as copper oxide or as sulphide ore
  • In Zimbabwe:
  • Sulphide copper deposits can be found on the Great Dyke near Mhangura
  • Oxide and carbonate ores are mined near Chinhoyi and Umkonda mine in the lowveld
  • Copper ore is smelted at Alaska mine which also receives concentrated copper ore from Mhangura
  • Pure copper is not a very strong metal
  • It however has several uses due to its properties:
  • It is used in solar heaters, car radiators, hot water pipes and cooking pots due to itsĀ high thermal conductivity
  • It is used in electrical cables, wires and electrical conducts due to itsĀ good electrical conductivity
  • Ease of working means it is used to make various items such as statues and valves
  • Has a bright lustre which means it is used as jewelry and for decorative purposes
  • It is used to protect the underside of boats since it is resistant to the corrosiveness of sea water
  • It is sonorous so it is used to make bells

Copper alloys

  • Before the discovery of steel copper alloys were commonly used by people for everyday uses
  • Some the alloys of copper and their past and present uses are listed in the table below
AlloyCompositionProperties of the AlloyUses of the alloy
Brasscopper and zincHigh lustre when polished, resonant and softBullet cartridges, music instruments, hot water pipes, screws and Ornaments
BronzeCopper and tinhard, wear resistance, tough, sonorousstatues, medals and bells
Nickel-silvercopper and nickelLight, wear resistantsilver coins

To access more topics go to the Combined Science Notes page.