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Friday, September 20, 2019

Gacad: Copper and iron everyday

HOW many times throughout each day do you use something that comes from a mine?

From the time you wake up until the time you go to sleep, almost every single item you use contains minerals and metals that came from a mine somewhere around the world! Mining impacts your life in ways you can't even imagine. Minerals and metals are in cell phones and transportation, paints and jewelry, buildings and even dog and cat food. In fact, everything that is not grown comes from a mine! See how many items you come in contact with every day that come from a mine.

Alarm clocks are made with copper because it is the best industrial conductor of electricity. The average person will use more than 1,000 pounds of copper in their lifetime! Doorknobs are made with copper, which has an added health benefit because copper slows down the growth of germs. This makes it perfect for surfaces frequently touched by humans.

As you button up your jeans, you are touching brass, a copper alloy and an extremely durable metal that will hold up to wash and wear.

Do you like to listen to music? Portable audio devices are made with gold and copper, both efficient conductors that can carry tiny currents and remain free of corrosion. Minerals help to keep us safe! Seat belts are made with molybdenum because it's a strong metal. Lightings in vehicles are made with molybdenum that makes it strong but lightweight. Copper wiring is a reliable conductor of electricity. Both minerals work together to get you around safely and on time! Lights in the classroom use copper, a great conductor of electricity that is highly resistant to corrosion. In fact, copper is essential to power generation and lighting in almost every building you use every day! A tablet computer is made with both copper and gold. The calculators you use in math class contain copper and possibly small amounts of gold.

Have you ever visited the Statue of Liberty? The exterior of the Statue of Liberty is made of copper, a metal so durable we can enjoy it today virtually the same as we did 100 hundred years ago. Gold is extremely malleable and can be hammered into extremely thin sheets. These fine sheets of gold can be used to decorate solid objects. Goal posts are strengthened using molybdenum to increase their toughness and resistance to corrosion.

Copper occurs naturally in many foods and is necessary for human health. We would not have enough food to eat without fertilizer to grow our foods. The coins used to purchase your snacks contain copper, which is recyclable and does not degrade easily. It is estimated that approximately 80% of copper we have ever produced is still in use!

Iron is probably the most widely used metal in the world. It has been in use since ages by man for his every day needs. It is one of the most abundant elements in the earth. It is obtained by purification of the iron ore. Iron has some special properties compared to other metals which keeps it in high demand. Its toughness, resistance to harsh conditions and strength make is suitable for hard tasks. It may be very hard to imagine advanced machinery and tools without presence of iron on the earth. There is no other metal which can be a substitute to it in few applications.

Iron is the constituent of hemoglobin (HB) in the red blood cells of our body. It is also present in other enzymes form in all the animals. During inadequate food intake, menstruation or pregnancy, one tends to fall short of this HB. The normal range of HB in man is 11 to 16g/dl. But when the levels go below these levels the condition is termed as hypochromic anemia. The heme part of the pigment induces red color to blood. It is important for transport of oxygen from the lungs to different tissues in the body. This pigment due to iron, reversibly bind to oxygen in lungs and releases it in tissues and cells. When the pigment levels fall down, there is insufficient oxygen supply leading to anemia. During such conditions, take in high iron content food stuff like green leafy vegetables. If the condition is so sever, they even prescribe iron tablets containing Fe+. In medicine form it is given as iron compounds like ferrous fumerate, ferrous gluconate, ferrous sulfate etc.

Iron is a micro-nutrient in plants having a diverse role in their physiology. Iron deficiency leads to few diseases. Hence iron is used in agriculture to maintain proper growth of plants. Iron concentration is critical for plants. Organic iron is the from by which it is absorbed from the soil by plants. Many cooking and kitchenware and products are made of stainless steel which is made from iron. This form of iron does not get rust but is also strong and durable. Besides, home and building constructions rely a lot on iron. It is used in foundations, roofs and even pillars of the building and homes. It is used as long rods in combination with concrete and cement. Adding iron to the construction gives strength and durability to the construction. Also the presence of iron rods helps to bear intense weight.

Automobiles are built to a large extent with iron, except for a few wherein aluminum is used to give light weight to the body. The main frame work and other parts like pistons, wires, wheel bearings are made of iron. Grey cast iron is used in making engine piston cylinder cases, gear boxes and other tools. White cast iron is used to make bearings. Again here iron is preferred for its toughness, ability to withstand high temperature of engine, etc.

Most of the tools we use in daily life like spanners, screw drivers, compass etc. are made of iron. Even scientific machinery, research instruments use iron. Security systems likes bank lockers, locks, keys, safes, cupboards are made of iron. This is due to the heaviness and also toughness of the metal. Another place where iron is largely used is pipes for supply of water. This can be from municipal storage to homes, from wells into farms etc. Pipes made of iron are durable and chances of leaks due to small damage are less. They can tolerate the harsh climatic conditions and oxidation. So, they can be of long standing service if laid once. Even gas cylinders used to deliver gas for medicine or natural cooking gas are made of iron.

"The wise man... will not, with the miser, look to gold and silver as the only blessings of life; nor will he, with the cynic, snarl at mankind for preferring them to copper and iron . . . That which is convenient is that which is useful, and that which is useful is that which is valuable." ~ Michael Faraday
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