Introduction To Copper

By Anup Pokhrel


Details about copper are given below:

Group 11 Melting point 1084.62°C, 1984.32°F, 1357.77 K
Period 4 Boiling point 2560°C, 4640°F, 2833 K
Block d Density 8.96 gram per centimeter
State at 20 °C solid Key isotope 63Cu
Atomic number 29 Atomic mass 63.546

Ores of copper

Malachite → Cu(OH)2.CuCO3

Copper-iron pyrite → CuFeS2

Copper glance → Cu2S

Cuprite → Cu2O

Extraction of copper

Copper is mainly extracted from sulphide ore i.e. Copper iron pyrite (CuFeS2) in following steps.

  1. Concentration: The ore is first crushed into pieces and then powdered which is then mixed with water along with pine oil in a large tank and agitated by blowing air. The sulphide ores come to the surface along with froth and impurities settle down.
  2. Roasting: The concentrated ore is strongly heated in the presence of air in the reverberatory furnace. This process helps to remove out impurities like phosphorus, sulphur, arsenic etc in the form of volatile oxide.



The copper iron pyrite reacts with air to form cuprous sulphide and iron sulphide and later on the compound are further oxidized to their oxides.




  • Smelting: the roasted ore is mixed with coke(C) and sand (SiO2) and then it is heated strongly in the blast furnace. The coke burns and this leads to a temperature of 1273 K. the formed FeO combines with SiO2 to give easily fusible silicate slag.


The copper oxide is also converted into copper sulphide.



The molten mass below the slag consists of the mixture of the sulphide of copper and iron known as matte.

  • Basemerization: fig:basemerisation


















The molten matter is mixed with silica and a blast of hot air is introduced into Bessemer converter and fine sand is also introduced then the following reaction occurs.



When whole iron is removed the slag thus formed is removed and then cuprous sulphide reacts with cuprous oxide to form copper.



The molten mass is then cooled. Then it slowly gives dissolved the SO2 gas in the form of bubbles. So, the copper thus formed is also known as blister copper.

  • Purification: purification is done by electrolysis method in which blister copper is taken as the anode and is placed in acidified copper sulphate(CuSO4) solution and pure copper is taken as the cathode. On passing current pure copper is deposited at the cathode and the impurities are collected at the bottom of the anode as an anode mud.


Chemical properties of copper

  • Action with air: copper when exposed to moist air forms a green colored compound due to the formation of basic carbonate of copper.


On heating with air below 1100 cupric oxide is formed and above 1100 cuprous oxide is formed.


4Cu+O22Cu2O(on heating with air below 1100)4Cu+O2⟶2Cu2O(on heating with air below 1100)
2Cu+O22CuO(on heating with air above 1100)2Cu+O2⟶2CuO(on heating with air above 1100)


  • Action with acid
  1. With nitric acid (HNO3): Moderately concentrated nitric acid gives nitric oxide gas whereas concentrated nitric acid gives nitrogen dioxide gas.


8HNO3+3Cu3Cu(NO3)2+2NO+H2O(with moderately concentrated HNO3)8HNO3+3Cu⟶3Cu(NO3)2+2NO+H2O(with moderately concentrated HNO3)
4HNO3+CuCu(NO3)2+2NO2+H2O(with concentrated HNO3)4HNO3+Cu⟶Cu(NO3)2+2NO2+H2O(with concentrated HNO3)



  1. With sulphuric acid (H2SO4): Copper react with the sulphuric acid in the presence of air to form copper sulphate.


2Cu+2H2SO4+O22CuSO4+2H2O(with dil. H2SO4)2Cu+2H2SO4+O2⟶2CuSO4+2H2O(with dil. H2SO4)
Cu+2H2SO4Cuso4+2H2O+SO2(with conc. H2SO4)Cu+2H2SO4⟶Cuso4+2H2O+SO2(with conc. H2SO4)



  1. With hydrochloric acid: copper react with hydrochloric acid in the presence of air to form CuCl2.


  • Displacement reaction: copper displaces less electropositive metal like Ag, Pt, Au from their salt.



Uses of copper

  • Used for making conducting wire.
  • Used for making utensils.
  • Used for making alloys like brass {Cu + Zn}, bronze [Cu +Sn}.
  • Corrosive resistant: Copper is low in the reactivity series. This means that it doesn’t corrode. It is used for pipes, electrical cables, and radiators.
  • As jewelry: It also means that it is well suited to decorative use. Jewelry, statues and parts of buildings can be made from copper, brass or bronze and remain attractive for thousands of years.
  • Anti-bacterial: Copper is a naturally hygienic metal that slows down the growth of germs such as E-coli, MRSA (the hospital “superbug”).
  • This is important for applications such as food preparation, hospitals, coins, doorknobs and plumbing systems.

Important Questions
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