Copper is a metal used widely to produce electrical wiring and many similar products. Crude copper is initially impure and black. This metal is obtained by employing a pryometallurgical system. Subsequently, it is refined using a method similar to petroleum refining, as crude copper is not suitable to use in its original form. When crude copper is used in its original form, it lacks the ability of high electrical conductivity, which is, the main purpose of refining copper. To use copper properly, crude copper should be purified to the level of 99.7 percent. The crude copper refining methods first came to be known with the invention of the Dynamo. It was used initially in year 1869 in South Wales.
The electro-refining is the method used for refining crude copper. When purifying, the large slabs are taken as anodes while the thin copper sheets are taken as cathodes in the column of cells. The electro-refining is done with electrolyte that consists of a solution of acid. Electrolysis is used to separate elements from natural sources like ores. Its scientific form is CuSO4. By applying the right voltage to the electrodes, the copper metals at the anodes are oxidized reducing them to Cu2+ and pure copper at the next step at Cathode is formed. Unlike water, copper can be oxidized and reduced easily. Because of this, the electro-refining system is used to purify them.
Like the petroleum refining method, when refining crude copper, many by products are formed as byproducts. They include lead, nickel, selenium, tellurium, zinc and other valuable products such as gold and silver. When refining, more active metals than copper are highly oxidized at the anode. However, they do not form at the cathode as these metals' ability to reduce is at a lower stage than the form Cu2+.
In this way, the metal that has less active abilities does not oxidize at the anode. This part adheres at the lower part of the anode. Later, these smudges are taken and reprocessed to refine precious metals. From the procedure of copper refining, one fourth of silver yield in the USA are produced while gold production from this method is about one eighth of the total gold production of the USA.
After purifying crude copper, it becomes very soft. It takes on a peachy or pinkish color as well. Pure copper is used as electrical conductors, building materials and to produce electrical conductors. It is also taken as a constituent for numerous metallic alloys.
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