Why is copper called copper
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copper (lat. Cuprum) is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and the atomic number 29. It is a metal of the 4th period in the 11th group in the periodic table. The Latin name cuprum is derived from aes cyprium "Ore from the island of Cyprus", where copper was mined in ancient times.
As a relatively soft metal, copper is easy to shape and tough. As an excellent conductor of heat and electricity, copper is used in many ways and also belongs to the group of coin metals.
As a weakly reactive heavy metal, copper is one of the precious metals.
Copper, gold, silver and tin were the first metals that mankind got to know in their development. Because copper is easy to work with, it was used by the oldest known cultures around 10,000 years ago. The time of its widespread use from the 5th millennium BC. Until the 3rd millennium BC BC is sometimes also called the Copper Age. In alchemy, copper was associated with Venus / femininity ♀, certainly not least because the first mirrors were made from this metal.
Later it was alloyed with tin and lead to make bronze. This harder and technically more resistant alloy gave its name to the Bronze Age. The distinction between lead and tin was only introduced with increasing knowledge of metals, so that from today's perspective the term bronze is only correctly applied to tin-copper alloys with a high copper content.
The golden yellow copper-zinc alloy "brass" was already known in ancient Greece. It was smelted by processing the respective ores together, but it was only the Romans who made increasing use of this process. The gold-copper alloy Tumbaga was widely used in ancient Colombia.
Copper sometimes occurs in nature as a dignified element, mainly in basaltic lavas. It usually occurs as a nugget (solidified from the melt) or in branched structures, so-called dendrites, rarely also in crystalline form. The proportion of native copper in nature is, however, very low.
Copper ores, on the other hand, are common. This is how copper is made from chalcopyrite (copper pyrites) (CuFeS2), Chalcosine (copper luster) (Cu2S), more rarely also from bornite (Cu5FeS4), Atacamite [CuCl2 • Cu (OH)2], Malachite and other ores.
The world's largest deposits are in Chile (Chuquicamata), the USA, Russia, Zambia (Copperbelt), Canada and Peru.
See also: Copper mining
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- See also: List of the largest copper producers
The most important copper-producing country is by far Chile, followed by Indonesia and the USA. In Europe we should mention Poland and also Portugal and Sweden. The most important export countries are organized in the CIPEC. CIPEC includes, among others. Australia, Indonesia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Papua New Guinea, on whose island of Bougainville one of the world's largest copper mines led to a civil war in 1988, the consequences of which are still ongoing.
The copper mines on the Keweenaw Peninsula in Lake Superior / USA were historically significant (the world's largest deposit of native copper; extraction already in pre-Columbian times). In Germany, copper shale was mined in the Mansfeld region until 1990.
Copper pyrites (CuFeS2) initially so-called Copper stone (Cu2S with varying contents of FeS, Cu content approx. 70%). For this purpose, the starting material is roasted with the addition of coke and the iron oxides contained are slagged with silica-containing aggregates. This iron silicate slag floats on the copper stone and can thus be easily poured off.
The copper stone thus obtained becomes to Raw copper (also black copper, Cu content approx. 98%) further processed. To do this, it is poured into a converter and air is blown into this melt. In a first stage (Slag bubbles) The iron sulphide contained in it is roasted to form iron oxide and this is bound by slagged quartz to form slag, which can be poured off. In a second step (Cooking bubbles) become two thirds of the remaining Cu2S to Cu2O oxidized. The oxide then reacts with the remaining sulfide to form raw copper.
The raw copper (also called "cement copper") is now electrolytically cleaned. The impure copper forms the anode, from there the copper migrates as an ion through the electrolyte to the cathode and is there as Electrolytic copper deposited with a Cu content of 99.99%, d. H. with only very small admixtures of other substances. The less noble metals in these admixtures remain dissolved in the electrolyte, the more noble metals (including silver and gold) form the "electrolyte sludge" and are processed separately.
The extraction of copper takes place in an affinerie, in Germany the Norddeutsche Affinerie in Hamburg is known for this, in former times it was also the Duisburger Kupferhütte (today DK Recycling).
With a density of 8920 kg / m3 Copper is one of the heavy metals, its melting point is 1083.4 ° C. It crystallizes in the face centered cubic (fcc) crystal system (Cu type) and has a Mohs hardness between 2.5 and 3. Copper conducts electricity very well (58106 S / m). It is therefore only slightly worse than silver and significantly more conductive than gold. In addition, copper is a very good conductor of heat.
However, aluminum is a better electrical conductor than copper per gram of weight. However, it is more voluminous than copper, so that copper conducts electricity better than aluminum per square centimeter of cable cross-section. Because copper is less reactive than aluminum and it is easier to process than aluminum, copper is mostly used and aluminum only when weight matters.
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