Accordingto information from Copper Alliance, at the moment there is no active copperproduction in Britain, nevertheless in 2005 the United Kingdom consumed 165 400tonnes of refined copper, which equates to one percent of total worldconsumption. Within Europe, Britain is the eighth largest consumer of coppergoods, after Poland, Spain, Belgium, France, Italy, Russia and Germany (Germanyhas the largest consumption in Europe). British consumption rose through the1990s to a peak of 408 500 tonnes in 1997 and has since declined by nearly 40%.The European average consumption per capita is 6.4 kg copper, whereas theBritish figure is less than half of that, at 2.
8 kg per capita (World Bureau ofMetal Statistics and United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs).Due to its important properties and ability to conduct electricity and heat thisprecious metal is being used for production of everyday household items and materialswhich are being widely utilised in current construction industry. Copperhas been used for production of electrical items for generations and currently equatesto around 65% of total copper used globally (Data from Copper DevelopmentAssociation). The main reason for thesehigh figures is, that copper is the only material which have been approved byall electrical codes in Britain, therefore it would be really difficult to finda replacement material and get it approved in the same way. The second reasonis reliability and life-span: copper has been used in electrical services for avery long time and therefore it is well known within manufacturers andelectrical contractors, most of them do not want to look for alternatives. As aconsequence, consumption figures of electrical items made from alternativematerials and are too low and not many companies want to risk investing into amarket without stable demand figures.
Copper,as a material, is highly respected in building construction sphere,architecture and interior design. For instance, copper is used in many variousarchitectural elements, such as: roofs, gutters, domes, spires, wall cladding,flashings, building expansion joints and downspouts. Copper does not sufferfrom underside corrosion, which can cause premature failures, because of thisreason copper roofing in very rural areas can last for more than 200 years. However,under certain conditions oxidizing acids, heavy-metal salts, surfur, alkatis,nitrogen oxides and ammonia can accelerate copper corrosion. In areas where pHis less than 5.5, but well protected from acidrain, fossilfuel combustion, chemical manufacturingor other processes, that could release sulfur and nitrogen oxides intothe atmosphere,material does not required any cleaning or maintenance, therefore could be usedin dangerous or non-accessible areas. Moreover, this material can reduceelectric or magnetic fields and it is often being used to protect sensitiveelectronic equipment from high voltages. It is also widely used formanufacturing of fixings as handrails, various ironmongery, push plates, evencounter tops made of copper which are being widely used in hospitals,laboratories, offices, schools as this material has strong intrinsicantimicrobial properties.
Sincethe beginning of 19th century copper has been used as a mainmaterial for plumbing installations in many countries worldwide. The mainreason for this is that copper has a very low coefficient of linear expansion,which means that it could withstand rough environments and pressure changeswithin the plumbing installations. Copper tubing is being produced in a numberof different tempers: soft, half-hard and hard; it is also available in coils,which is being used as refrigerant gas distribution pipework in all airconditioning worldwide. It also comes in straight lengths up to six meterswhich allows plumbers to successfully use it even for waste and / or surface waterdisposal systems. Copper tube is also available with a factory applied plasticcovering and with a chrome plating for decorative applications. Tubesand fittings made from copper can be confidently used in various industrial,commercial and domestic pipework services, such as hot and cold water, centralheating and gas.
Because of material qualities, as it is strong, it still canbe simply formed into bends systems can be assembled both on- and off-site.