Copper Facts: Copper in Transportation

Copper Fact 1

There's more than 50 pounds of copper in a typical U.S.-built automobile: about 40 pounds for electrical and about 10 pounds for nonelectrical components.

Copper Fact 2

The Tesla Roadster is also the first commercially available automobile powered by an electric motor powered by a copper rotor. This innovative advancement in metallurgical technology increases efficiency, resulting in greater overall power and longer operating distances between charges. A true sports car, the Roadster is hand-built, sleekly designed, fast and nimble. It boasts a range of 250 miles with a top speed of 130 mph.

Copper Fact 3

BMW has introduced its MINI E electric vehicle. It delivers 204 hp (150 kw) form its copper-rotor induction motor manufactured by AC Propulsion. The air-cooled will do 0-67 mph in 8.5 seconds with a range of about 240 miles.

Copper Fact 4

AC Propulsion is the owner of 6 issued patents on EV technology, which have been licensed to other companies, including Tesla Motors. Some of this technology was originally developed by AC Propulsion for its tzero electric sports car which achieved 0-60 mph acceleration in 3.6 seconds and 300 mile range while driving 60 mph.

Copper Fact 5

In 1948, the average family car contained only about 55 wires amounting to an average total length of 150 feet. Today's luxury cars, on average, contain some 1,500 copper wires totaling about one mile in length, thanks to continuing improvements in electronics and the addition of power accessories.

Copper Fact 6

CuproBraze™ is the name of a new manufacturing process for copper-and-brass automotive radiators. The process uses fluxless lead-free brazing, anneal resistant alloys and laser welding among other innovations to produce new thin-walled radiators that perform better than thicker-walled aluminum products.

Copper Fact 7

The new radiator was developed by the International Copper Association and produced initially by the Universal Auto Radiator Manufacturing Company. They are typically 30% to 40% lighter than traditional copper and brass models, can be made smaller than their aluminum counterparts, and can provide up to 30% less airside pressure drop. The CuproBraze process also shortens manufacturing time and reduces production costs.

Copper Fact 8

Vehicle engines run smoother and last longer because copper is added to lubricants. Motor oil manufacturers typically include additives containing soluble, antioxidant copper to their products, a process originally patented by Exxon Chemical Corp. Exxon considers the copper-based additive to rank among the most significant inventions in crankcase additive chemistry in the 20th century.

Copper Fact 9

The body of the 1921 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost is completely copper. Nearly all of the car's engine hardware is solid brass. And, of course, it has a copper and brass radiator. The Franklin Mint offers a precision scale model. The National Transportation Museum in Reno, Nevada, displays the classic restored Rolls.

Copper Fact 10

An average motorized farm vehicle uses 63 pounds of copper, while construction vehicles use an average 66 pounds. An electric forklift truck uses about 138 pounds.

Copper Fact 11

The largest mobile land machine ever built is a mammoth electric shovel, called the walking dragline, and uses a whopping 800,000 pounds of copper.

Copper Fact 12

About 2% (9,000 pounds) of the total weight of a Boeing 747-200 jet plane is copper. Included in that weight is 632,000 feet of copper wire.

Copper Fact 13

A typical, diesel-electric railroad locomotive uses about 11,000 pounds of copper. More than 16,000 pounds (8 tons) of copper is used in the latest and most-powerful locomotives manufactured by General Electric Company and General Motors Corporation. These diesel-electric behemoths use fabricated copper conductor bars for the rotors of their six three-phase AC-induction motors and copper wire for winding the stators.

Copper Fact 14

The 6,000-hp engines rely on copper-wound generators; copper-and-brass radiators for cooling; copper tube for refrigeration, air-conditioning and heating; and more than five miles of copper wire for power and communications.

Copper Fact 15

Model railroads depend on copper, too. Prized scale models of locomotive and rolling stock are cast in solid brass. All model motors are wound with copper wire, as are the transformers that supply the voltage applied to the tracks and accessories. By the way, the tracks are made of brass or nickel silver, another alloy of copper.

Copper Fact 16

Electrically powered subway cars, trolleys and buses use from 625 pounds to 9,200 pounds of copper each, for a weighted average of 2,300 pounds apiece.

Copper Fact 17

A Triton-class nuclear submarine uses about 200,000 pounds of copper.

Copper Fact 18

Cast and sintered bronzes perform an important anti-friction function as bearings in millions of home products, automobiles and trucks, and in virtually all heavy industrial equipment.

Copper Fact 19

Bronze bearings come in several basic forms, including cylindrical sleeves or flanges; flat, donut-shaped thrust bearings; or disk-shaped bearing plates.

Copper Fact 20

Today, small-footprint, high-efficiency boilers based on copper heat exchangers are replacing conventional firebox boilers that required rooms with ceilings as high as 18 feet. Aside from space saving, the new boilers are more energy efficient - in the range of 84% versus less than 70% for the old room-size units.

Copper Fact 21

OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, requires the use of copper alloy safety tools in situations where explosions are feared. A complete selection of hand tools, such as hammers, axes, pliers, screwdrivers and the like, is made from either beryllium copper or aluminum bronze. These high-strength, nonsparking copper alloy tools are also nonmagnetic and corrosion resistant.

Copper Fact 22

Copper-alloy inserts and core pins are used extensively in problem areas of the plastics molding process because of copper's excellent thermal conductivity (heat transfer).

Copper Fact 23

Injection molds made completely from copper alloys (instead of steel or aluminum) are used in the plastics industry. Along with increased production rates, copper alloy molds reduce warping, surface finish problems and operating costs for manufacturers.

Copper Fact 24

Copper dies are used for the printing of high-definition graphics, such as labels, trading cards and specialty packaging. Copper dies are also preferred by those who print on foil because they offer higher heat transfer as well as being helpful in creating sharper images. In addition to paper and foil, the dies are used to emboss and foil stamp on corrugated paperboard, plastic, leather, wood and other substrates.

Copper Fact 25

A Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) for the Hadron Calorimeter (an apparatus for measuring quantities of heat) at the Fermi Labs in Chicago has a barrel and endcap made of a copper alloy. The subassembly weighs in at 1,600 tons, making it the heaviest copper alloy structure ever built.

Copper Fact 26

Less dramatic perhaps, but nevertheless playing an essential role in modern medicine, are MRI scanners which rely on copper-based superconductors to create their images.