What Are the Industrial Uses of Phosphorus Copper?

Alex Newth

Phosphorus copper is a copper alloy — or mixture of metals — that contains anywhere from 8 percent to 15 percent phosphorus, depending on the alloy’s purpose. This alloy has high strength, is excellent for forging and has many effective joining methods, making it a versatile metal. In the metallurgy industry, phosphorus copper is used as a wetting agent, deoxidant and alloying agent. It is durable and works well conducting temperature, so it is often used in wires, heater elements, air conditioners and refrigerators. In the architecture industry, it finds use as gutters and roofing because of its durability and toughness, along with its natural rust resistance.

The ability of phosphorus copper to conduct heat makes it useful in air conditioners.
The ability of phosphorus copper to conduct heat makes it useful in air conditioners.

While phosphorus copper is an alloy — because there are several metals present — phosphorus itself is a nonmetal. It is added to the copper mixture mostly to remove impurities and oxygen and to imbue these cleaning properties when the copper is mixed with other metals. Phosphorus also adds to the electrical and thermal conductivity of regular copper, making it useful for many industries.

In the metallurgy industry, phosphorus copper is usually mixed with either copper or aluminum, but it also can mix with other metals. In this industry, it has three special properties: deoxidizing, wetting agent and alloying agent. When metal is being smelted, it usually contains oxygen and other impurities, but adding this copper to the bath can reduce the oxygen in the metal. As a wetting agent used in creating brazing rods, it increases the strength of the rod and makes the rod melt at lower temperatures. When used to help alloys, it adds hardness, strength and elasticity.

Phosphorus copper works well with conducting thermal energy, so it is commonly used to create products that involve the movement of heat or cold. Heater elements and air conditioners, along with refrigerators, all use this copper alloy. The phosphorus also improves its electrical conductivity, which is why it also is made into wires. Hydraulic lines and oil lines used in cars and trucks also take advantage of these traits by using this copper alloy.

While not the strongest metal, phosphorus copper is reasonably durable and tough, making it an excellent fit for the architecture industry. Copper does not rust, which means it can withstand weather conditions. It is crafted into gutters, carrying pipes and roofing. The ability of phosphorus copper to be forged allows workers to easily heat and bend the copper alloy for any size or dimension to help it fit on the intended piece of architecture.

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