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Why Copper Is Critical for Data Centers

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The following content is sponsored by the Copper Development Association

Why Copper Is Critical for Data Centers

Data centers are computer server hubs that collect, store, and process large amounts of data, requiring extensive network infrastructure and electric power supply.

As the North American data center market grows, copper will be a key building block in this infrastructure.

This infographic from the Copper Development Association illustrates the critical role of copper in data center development.

Copper in Technology

Much has been said about the growing demand for critical minerals like copper, nickel, and lithium for clean technologies such as batteries, EVs, solar, and wind power.

Copper, however, has a more extensive role in technology as it is used in wires that connect power grids and data centers around the planet.

As one of the best conductors of electricity, copper maximizes efficiency in the transmission and distribution of electricity. Its thermal conductivity also helps build efficient heat exchangers, which are vital for cooling in data centers.

The inherent ductility and malleability of copper make it ideal for shaping into compact system components, like electrical connectors. In addition, copper can be fully recycled without losing any beneficial properties, providing an excellent solution in a growing green economy.

Data centers use copper across various electrical applications, including:

  • Power cables
  • Busbars
  • Electrical connectors
  • Heat exchangers and sinks
  • Power distribution strips

To put the demand into perspective, Microsoft’s $500 million data center in Chicago required 2,177 tonnes of copper for construction.

North America’s Growing Need for Copper

With the rise of cloud computing and the Internet of Things (IoT), the North American data center market is expanding.

North American data center infrastructure is expected to grow from a $33 billion business in 2020 to $70 billion in 2030 and $185 billion in 2040.

This, in turn, will amplify the demand for copper. Copper consumption for data centers is estimated to jump from 197,000 tonnes in 2020 to 238,000 tonnes in 2030 and 293,000 tonnes in 2040.

The Copper Development Association (CDA) brings the value of copper and its alloys to society to address the challenges of today and tomorrow. Visit www.copper.org to learn more about copper’s critical role in data centers.

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Misc

Visualizing Global Aluminum Production

China dominates global production with nearly 60% share.

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Voronoi graphic of aluminum production in 2023.

Visualizing Global Aluminum Production

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

This infographic shows estimated aluminum smelter production by country in 2023, based on data from the most recent U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Mineral Commodity Summaries, published in January 2024 .

From this data, we can see that China leads as the top producer, accounting for nearly 60% of the world’s smelter capacity. Its neighbor India is the second-largest producer, making only a tenth of China’s output.

Country2023 Aluminum Smelter Production (tonnes)% of total
🇨🇳 China41,000,00059%
🇮🇳 India4,100,0006%
🇷🇺 Russia3,800,0005%
🇨🇦 Canada3,000,0004%
🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates2,700,0004%
🇧🇭 Bahrain1,600,0002%
🇦🇺 Australia1,500,0002%
🇳🇴 Norway1,300,0002%
🇧🇷 Brazil1,100,0002%
🌍 Rest of the World9,460,00014%
Total69,560,000100%

Responsible for 5% of global aluminum output, Russia has been targeted by recent sanctions from the U.S. and the UK.

The sanctions include prohibiting metal-trading exchanges from accepting new aluminum produced by Russia and barring the import of the Russian metal into the U.S. and Britain. The actions are aimed at disrupting Russian export revenue amid Moscow’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

The World’s Most Common Metal

Aluminum is the primary material used for making cans, foil, and many other products. It originates from bauxites, rocks composed of aluminum oxides, and various minerals.

Approximately 25% of annually produced aluminum is utilized by the construction industry, while another 23% is allocated to vehicle frames, wires, wheels, and other components within the transportation sector. Aluminum foil, cans, and packaging constitute another significant end-use category, accounting for 17% of consumption.

Despite its extensive use, aluminum is still plentiful. Aluminum is the world’s most common metal by crustal abundance, making up 8.2% of the Earth’s crust.

According to the USGS, global resources of bauxite are estimated to be between 55 billion and 75 billion tonnes and are sufficient to meet world demand for metal well into the future.

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Misc

Brass Rods: The Sustainable Choice

Brass rods can help cut emissions in machine shops, be recycled without losing properties, and contribute to a cleaner environment.

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Teaser of bar chart and pie chart highlighting how brass rods can reduce emissions in machine shops, be recycled without losing properties, and contribute to a cleaner environment.

Brass Rods: The Sustainable Choice

Brass rods have a powerful lineup of green attributes, making them the sustainable choice for manufacturers and end-users of precision machined and forged parts.

This infographic, from the Copper Development Association, shows how brass rods can reduce emissions in machine shops, be recycled without losing properties, and contribute to a cleaner environment.

The Brass Rod Circular Economy

The metallurgical properties of brass allow pre- and post-consumer sources of brass scrap to be recycled with no loss in properties.

Brass scrap can retain over 90% of the original material value. In addition, brass doesn’t need energy-intensive processing, unlike steel and aluminum, which must be smelted and refined before being recycled into new products.

As a result, there is a greater chance that steel and aluminum scrap will end up in landfills.

Most brass-rod alloys produced in North America contain 95% or higher recycled content.

Closed-loop recycling of brass keeps this valuable engineering material out of landfills, reducing the need for new mines and all the environmental impacts that entails.

Higher Machinability Leads to Lower Operational Carbon Emissions

Machinability is how easily a material can be worked using cutting processes. It directly impacts the amount of energy required to produce finished parts.

With typical machine shops producing millions of parts each year, the carbon impact can be significant.

Here’s how brass and steel compare when manufacturing complex parts using computer numerical control (CNC) machining.

MaterialBrassSteel
TypeFree-cutting brass (C36000)Free-cutting steel (12L14)
Maximum machinability rating (0-100)10021
Metal Removal Rate (cubic inches per minute)0.2380.114
Time to remove material (hours)161,111336,111
Energy required to produce parts (kilowatt-hour)9,47518,931

In this example, using brass represented a savings of 3,510 kg in carbon dioxide (CO2).

The significantly longer tool life enabled by brass also reduces the need for new cutting tools, further decreasing emissions.

High recycled content and exceptional machinability make brass rods the sustainable choice for manufacturers and end-users seeking to reduce their environmental footprint and support the transition to a low-carbon future.

Explore the advantages of brass rod solutions.

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