Copper

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Cu 29
 
Copper

Abundance: ???% (crust)

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Copper is a metal that is ductile and an excellent conductor of electricity and heat. Until more of the Martian surface has been prospected, it is impossible to know how much settlements will be able to rely on this metal.

Production

Copper may be found in useful concentrations near thermal vents that could have existed in the early martian seas. Another possible concentration mechanism would be gravitational separation in molten lava from volcanoes or after asteroid impact.

Aluminium is much more common than copper, by many orders of magnitude. Although it requires more energy to produce it can serve as a good replacement for copper.

Use

Electrical Wire and Cables

Due to its excellent conductivity, copper is widely used to transmit electricity. Copper is easily drawn into wire. Copper is used extensively in control systems, to conduct communication in standard wire and coaxial wire. This usage is being partly superseded by wireless communications. Aluminium is a commonly used alternative, in particular for larger conductors.

Power transformers

Power transformers are essential for AC power distribution systems. They are large and heavy and require large amounts of copper, although aluminium might be an acceptable substitute. DC converters can replace transformers.

Construction Material

Copper is used extensively as a piping material for potable water, although it is gradually being replaced by plastics. Stainless steel can be a replacement for copper and on Mars requires less energy to produce than plastics.

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Industry

Copper is used in many alloys such as Bronze (with Tin).

Consumer Goods

Copper is used in jewelry and food preparation utensils.