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Why is scrap iron used to displace copper?

  Monday, 11 January 2021

Scrap iron is used to displace copper because it is a more reactive, cheaper metal, making it a cost-effective way to produce copper. Scrap or old iron is also easier to obtain, as it is one of the world’s most recycled scrap metals. During a displacement reaction, iron reacts with a copper sulphate solution. This causes the iron ion to displace the copper to form iron sulphate, with solid copper being produced as a result.

An alternative way of generating a copper supply is to dissolve the copper compound in a solution which is then electrolysed to produce the metal. During the electrolysis of copper sulphate, positive copper ions are attracted to the negative electrode where they take in two electrons and form copper atoms.

How is scrap iron used to produce copper?

We extract most of our copper from copper-rich ores, which are mined from the earth’s crust. However, the supply of copper-rich ores is being depleted, so new ways of extracting copper from a low-grade ore are being developed to limit the environmental impact of traditional mining.

Displacement uses scrap iron to extract copper from copper solutions, as copper chemical is reduced and becomes ionised, producing pure copper.

Uses of copper

Once it has been extracted or displaced, copper is an incredibly useful metal as it can be recycled and reused several times.

Copper is incorporated into electronics of a car like the starter motor, lights, electric windows, anti-lock braking systems (ABS), airbags, entertainment systems, and satellite navigation because of its high electrical conductivity, high thermal conductivity, good corrosion resistance and strong bearing properties.

Get in touch today!

If you have a question about the use of scrap iron, or how we recycle any of our metals, give ASM Metal Recycling a call today on 01296 33 77 11, or send an e-mail to info at asm-recycling dot co dot uk: we’ll be happy to help.

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