The Chemical Properties of Copper

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The chemical properties of copper: This reddish, rust-colored metal has been widely used in every home, apartment structure and commercial buildings for years. One of the best conductors for electricity and heat, it has been an essential metal for most of our industries.

All of us have noticed how copper pennies, when exposed to moisture, form a turquoise or greenish, powder-like film called patina. The film coating is actually a type of protection, helping to spare the metal from further damage. This abundant natural metal is in many of the foods we consume along with the water we drink, which is beneficial to our health, in normal proportions of course.

But too much copper can be a serious health threat. Copper plumbing was taken out of houses for this very reason. Over exposure to copper can cause a number of symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, and sinus problems. Ongoing studies suggest a link from over exposure to copper to other health disorders. It has also been known to dwarf intelligence in children.

The chemical properties of copper, according to Lenntech include:

* Atomic number- 29
* Atomic mass - 63.546 g.mol -1
* Electronegativity according to Pauling- 1.9
* Density- 8.9 at 20C
* Melting point- 1083 C
* Boiling point- 2595 C
* Vanderwaals radius- 0.128 nm
* Ionic radius- 0.096 nm (+1) ; 0.069 nm (+3)
* Isotopes- 6
* Electronic shell - [ Ar ] 3d10 4s1
* Energy of first ionisation- 743.5 kJ.mol -1
* Energy of second ionisation- 1946 kJ.mol -1
* Standard potential- + 0.522 V ( Cu+/ Cu ) ; + 0.345 V (Cu2+/ Cu )
* Discovered by- The ancients

The resistance of copper to corrosion and wear, makes it a very useful metal. Once used in ancient times for things such as vessel ornaments, it is used today in most all of our industries. During the latter part of the twentieth century, it became highly recognized in the field of medicine. Copper today has a wide variety of uses which include:

* plumbing valves and pipes
* alloys such as bronze and brass
* electrical wiring
* cookware such as boilers and kettles
* coins

Finally, copper, one of the softer metals, is found almost everywhere. It is in the soil, air and plants. Since copper is so beneficial to our health, we're fortunate to have an abundance of it.

More about this author: Pat Lunsford

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