Copper is the basic material for a wide range of materials that are used in water distribution systems in front of and in buildings, both in the past and today. The manufacturing processes, component characteristics and intended use determine the right choice of copper alloy.
From a technical point of view, properties such as corrosion resistance, good workability and fire resistance are also important. Copper tubes or tube connectors are often made of pure copper (sometimes tin-plated on the inside), but the main body of water meters, pumps or outlet fittings is often based on special copper alloys that meet the respective mechanical-metallurgical requirements. But the complex inner workings of such components, which consist of many individual parts, also require a high level of manufacturing and engineering expertise and thus a sufficient range of suitable copper alloys.
For some years now, proof of the hygienic suitability of all materials that come into contact with drinking water has also been required. As expected, a sufficiently large variety of suitable copper alloys can be found on the corresponding “metal-positive list” of the Federal Environment Agency. In this list, copper materials are listed in different categories – depending on their chemical composition – and are not assigned to common (market) terms such as brass, gunmetal or bronze.
Important links and references
- General information on drinking water and the European Drinking Water Policy
- Recognition and harmonisation - 4MS initiative
- Assessment basis for metallic materials in contact with drinking water
- Assessment of drinking water quality with regard to the parameters lead, copper and nickel
- Questionnaire on testing and certification practice for products in contact with drinking water
Our teamThe experts at the Kupferinstitut have many years of experience in all questions concerning the range of applications of copper materials. They offer solutions to problems in materials science as well as to aspects of further processing, environmental and health-related issues.
Dr. rer. nat. Klaus Ockenfeld
Department of Environment, Health, Drinking Water, Regulatory Affairs
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