Melissa Albeck, CEO of online materials database Matmatch has six reasons why copper is critical to the future of technology and industry. Research indicates the global market for copper will be valued at $171.96 billion by 2023, and as emerging economies develop and more applications for copper are found, demand for ‘the red metal’ will accelerate.
Two-thirds of the copper produced since 1900 is still in productive use. Few other resources can match that figure, and as environmental sustainability rises to the top of the global agenda, it makes sense that manufacturers will want to be vanguards for positive change. Copper’s infinite recyclability not only helps mitigate pollution caused by the production of materials such as wood and plastic, but it’s also key to the recycling of minerals such as silver, gold, and nickel. Every year, 8.5 million tons of copper are recycled.
2. Electric vehicles
According to a report commissioned by the International Copper Association (ICA) for IDTechEx, the number of roadworthy electric and hybrid vehicles is expected to reach 27 million by 2027. Compared to the internal combustion engine, battery-powered vehicles require approximately 60kg more copper, the result of which is a projected 600 kilotons in additional copper demand by 2027.
3. Water crisis
All over the world, people face severe droughts, flooding, and contaminated water supplies. Population growth, global warming, inefficient infrastructure – if radical action isn’t taken to counter these trends, the crisis will only worsen. As a durable, recyclable and impermeable material, copper will prove critical in the delivery of clean water and resolve one of Earth’s biggest humanitarian challenges.
4. Global electrification
According to a 2017 study by the International Energy Agency (IEA), sectors previously confined to fossil fuels are becoming increasingly electrified. The result is millions of new appliances, cooling systems, and vehicles in need of power; power conducted and distributed by copper. Add in the global demand for renewable energy, and this demand will only surge further as suppliers source copper for wind farms and solar energy systems.
5. Health concerns
Global life expectancy may be rising, but challenges driven by antibiotic resistance mean we must work harder than ever to minimize the risk of public infection. Copper is antimicrobial by nature, making it an ideal choice of material for use in public areas such as hospitals, schools, and gyms. Bloomberg Markets believes public health applications may see the surge in demand for copper by as much as 1 million tons per year over the next 20 years.
6. ‘Green’ architecture
Just as we’ve seen in the automotive and energy industries, architects are turning to copper components to decrease the environmental impact of new buildings. In North America, copper has even been used to clad, adorn and embellish buildings to aid durability and sustainability. Copper’s corrosion-resistant properties can even help these buildings withstand damage from extreme weather conditions.
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