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How Much Copper is in an Electric Vehicle?

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How Much Copper is in an Electric Vehicle?

Copper’s special relationship with electricity has been apparent since ship designers first regularly began installing copper to protect the masts of wooden ships from lightning in the early 19th century.

Today, of course, you might be more used to seeing copper’s electrical applications through the use of power lines, telephone wires, and wiring in practically every major home appliance you own.

Millions of tons get used for these applications every year, but it is still early days for copper’s use in electrification. That’s because copper will continue to be a critical component of the green energy revolution, thanks to the rising adoption of battery-powered vehicles.

Why Copper?

Today’s visualization comes to us from Canadian Platinum Corp., and it focuses on showing how much copper is in an electric vehicle, along with the properties that make it the ideal choice for an EV-powered future.

Here is why copper is a crucial component to vehicle manufacturers:

Cost
Copper costs roughly $0.20 per ounce, compared to silver ($15/oz) and gold ($1200/oz), making it by far the cheapest option for electrical wire.

Conductivity:
Copper is nearly as conductive as silver – the most conductive metal – but comes at a fraction of the cost.

Ductility:
Copper can easily be shaped into wire, which is important for most electrical applications.

It’s also important to note that temperature does not affect copper’s conductivity, which makes the metal ideal for automobiles in all climates.

Copper in Gas vs. Electric Vehicles

The UBS Evidence Lab tore apart a traditional gas-powered vehicle as well as an EV to compare the different quantities of raw materials used.

What they found was crucial: there is 80% more copper in a Chevrolet Bolt, in comparison to a similar-sized Volkswagen Golf.

The major reason for this is that at the heart of every EV is an electric motor, which is built with copper, steel, and permanent magnets (rare earths). Electric motors tend to be much simpler than gas-powered engines, which have hundreds of moving parts.

Incredibly, in an electric motor, there can be more than a mile of copper wiring inside the stator.

The More Electric, the More Copper

According to Copper.org, along the scale from gas-powered cars to fully electrical vehicles, copper use increases dramatically.

Conventional gas-powered cars contain 18 to 49 lbs. of copper while a battery-powered EV contains 183 lbs. Meanwhile, for a fully electrical bus, a whopping 814 lbs. of copper is needed.

With the rapidly increasing adoption of electric vehicles, copper will be an essential material for the coming electrification of all forms of ground transport.

Copper is at the heart of the electric vehicle and the world will need more. By 2027, copper demand stemming from EVs is expected to increase by 1.7 million tonnes, which is a number just shy of China’s entire copper production in 2017.

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Copper

Brass Rods: The Sustainable Choice

Brass rods can help cut emissions in machine shops, be recycled without losing properties, and contribute to a cleaner environment.

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Teaser of bar chart and pie chart highlighting how brass rods can reduce emissions in machine shops, be recycled without losing properties, and contribute to a cleaner environment.

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The following content is sponsored by Copper Development Association

Brass Rods: The Sustainable Choice

Brass rods have a powerful lineup of green attributes, making them the sustainable choice for manufacturers and end-users of precision machined and forged parts.

This infographic, from the Copper Development Association, shows how brass rods can reduce emissions in machine shops, be recycled without losing properties, and contribute to a cleaner environment.

The Brass Rod Circular Economy

The metallurgical properties of brass allow pre- and post-consumer sources of brass scrap to be recycled with no loss in properties.

Brass scrap can retain over 90% of the original material value. In addition, brass doesn’t need energy-intensive processing, unlike steel and aluminum, which must be smelted and refined before being recycled into new products.

As a result, there is a greater chance that steel and aluminum scrap will end up in landfills.

Most brass-rod alloys produced in North America contain 95% or higher recycled content.

Closed-loop recycling of brass keeps this valuable engineering material out of landfills, reducing the need for new mines and all the environmental impacts that entails.

Higher Machinability Leads to Lower Operational Carbon Emissions

Machinability is how easily a material can be worked using cutting processes. It directly impacts the amount of energy required to produce finished parts.

With typical machine shops producing millions of parts each year, the carbon impact can be significant.

Here’s how brass and steel compare when manufacturing complex parts using computer numerical control (CNC) machining.

MaterialBrass Steel
Type Free-cutting brass (C36000)Free-cutting steel (12L14)
Maximum machinability rating (0-100)10021
Metal Removal Rate (cubic inches per minute)0.2380.114
Time to remove material (hours)161,111336,111
Energy required to produce parts (kilowatt-hours)9,47518,931

In this example, using brass represented a savings of 3,510 kg in carbon dioxide (CO2).

The significantly longer tool life enabled by brass also reduces the need for new cutting tools, further decreasing emissions.

High recycled content and exceptional machinability make brass rods the sustainable choice for manufacturers and end-users seeking to reduce their environmental footprint and support the transition to a low-carbon future.

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Explore the advantages of brass rod solutions.

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