Aluminium vs. Copper

  • In industrial environments, copper is commonly used in high voltage and extra high voltage cables, building wire, telecom wiring and transformers. On the other hand, aluminium is used predominantly on high voltage overhead wiring, rotors on induction motors and low voltage underground cables.
  • Some applications require a certain metal, so there is no opportunity to seek an alternative. However, in some products, aluminium can be used as a direct replacement. The most straightforward example is on the winding material used in inductors, or chokes. However, before switching material, there are a few key points to consider.
  • Firstly, aluminium is not available in as many winding cross-sections. Often a larger cross-section than is required must be used, increasing both the winding mass and volume.
  • Aluminium also has a lower melting point than copper. Because it melts at 660 degrees Celsius compared to copper’s 1085 degrees, aluminium cannot be used in applications where high overloads may be experienced, as this energy will not be absorbed fast enough.
  • Historically, connection and terminal technology has been another barrier in the use of aluminium cables and wires. Terminal connections between aluminium and copper can result in contact corrosion, causing an increase in electrical resistivity and a reduction in conductivity, raising losses and resulting in unit failure.
  • The copper supply may not have dwindled in the way that Joralemon predicted 100 years ago, but to stay competitive, manufacturers should weigh up the pros and cons of alternative materials.


Circular Aluminium Action Plan Launched

European Aluminium launched its Circular Aluminium Action Plan, a strategy for achieving aluminum’s full potential for a circular economy by 2030.

The action plan aims to ensure that all end-of-life aluminum products are collected and recycled efficiently in Europe to maximize aluminum recycling rates and to keep the material in active use. It builds on the aluminum industry’s Vision 2050 and provides policy recommendations for the sector to achieve full circularity.

“The aluminum industry is committed to helping deliver the European Green Deal, building on its long-standing commitment to sustainability. Our end goal is to achieve the full potential of aluminum circularity by 2030 and we won’t stop until we’ve achieved it. The Circular Aluminium Action Plan provides a roadmap for European policy makers and the European aluminum industry to work together to make this ambition a reality,” says Gerd Götz, European Aluminium’s Director General.

The aluminum industry has the potential to be a key driver in achieving Europe’s ambitions for a climate-neutral and circular economy. Aluminum is by nature circular and fit for multiple recycling: it can be recycled over-and-over again without losing its original properties (lightness, conductivity, formability, durability, permeability). Furthermore, the aluminum recycling process requires only 5% of the energy needed to produce primary metal, leading to significant CO2 savings.

Aluminum recycling rates are already among the highest of all materials. In Europe, recycling rates in the automotive and building sectors are over 90%, while aluminum beverage cans have a recycling rate of 75%.

With the right policy framework in place, 50% of Europe’s demand for aluminum could be supplied through post-consumer recycling by mid-century. As a result, aluminum recycling could reduce CO2 emissions by up to 39 million tonnes per year by 2050 compared to today, which corresponds to a reduction of 46% of CO2 per year in 2050, achieved mostly by replacing carbon intensive primary aluminum imports from outside Europe with recycled domestic post-consumer aluminum. By increasing recycling rates, Europe can also reduce its dependency on imports and therefore its exposure to the risk of supply disruptions.

Source : Aluminium Insider