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2021-09-28

Why are cable conductors made of copper?

The conductor is the part of the cable designed to conduct electricity. Although the invention of the telephone in 1876 created a demand for copper conductors, copper has been used in electrical installations since the invention of the electromagnet and telegraph (i.e. 1820s). 
Why did copper become the standard material for stranded wire?

What does conductivity of current (conductance) mean? It is a measure of a material's ability to conduct electricity. This measure depends on the atomic structure of the conductor. In addition to copper, silver, gold and aluminum are also good conductive materials. Why does copper beat them all?

Because it offers everything that a good conductive material should have. Not only is its atomic structure best suited for conducting electricity, but the properties of copper also favor soldering. Cables where it is used are characterized by resistance to bending and twisting, which is connected with high durability of the cables. We also cannot forget about the fact that it is the best quality/price ratio.

Why not use silver, gold and aluminum? Even leaving aside the fact, that copper has much better conductivity than silver and gold, using them as conducting materials would be gigantically expensive. Aluminum is second only to copper in terms of stability. In addition, it very quickly becomes coated with aluminium oxide, which impedes the flow of electric current. This is often followed by contact problems (the resistance level rises), resulting in a rise in temperature and, consequently, permanent damage to the cable. Overhead wires, however, appreciate this conductive material and it is what they are made of. Why? Because of the lower density, which affects the total weight of the ore, which is characterized by aluminum. Such wires are used primarily in high and medium voltage poles.

It is worth realizing that copper is a metal that can be recycled one hundred percent and without any loss of quality of this material. The properties of heat and electrical conductivity do not change even after repeated remelting of copper. Let us remember about this practical and ecological solution when throwing away copper cables.

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