Copper Alloys

Brasses (alloys of copper and zinc) are common utility metals because of their practical combination of corrosion resistance, strength, formability, castability, electrical and thermal conductivity, and nice color at temperatures less than 200º C. They are used as cartridges, electrical contacts, decorative linings, condenser tubing in seawater systems and the petrochemical industry, and cooler materials.

Bronzes (alloys of copper and tin) are also common metals and have good corrosion resistance, castability, and low friction. They are used primarily as valves, bearings, pump parts, container materials, springs, sliding contacts, and gearwheels.

Copper and copper alloy production

Copper and copper alloy production does not always need accurately sorted scrap. The color differences between Cu-alloys help sorting. The easiest scrap is copper scrap for refining plants that produce 98.5 % Cu. They may take scrap with only 10 % Cu, with the rest being mainly Fe such as electric motors. Plants producing 99.9% Cu require scrap that has been accurately analyzed and is pure copper and brass scrap.

Handheld XRF is an ideal method of analysis as it can easily detect and analyze the copper, zinc and lead as well as the other alloying element typically found in copper alloys. Please contact our experts to understand how handheld XRF can work for your application.

The penalty limits for “tramp” elements in pure copper scrap (99.9%) are:

 Elements Limit Elements Limit Elements Limit
 Al 0.01% As 0.005% Bi 0.001%
 Fe 0.01% Ni 0.02% P 0.004%
 Pb 0.005% S 0.001% Sb 0.004%
 Si 0.005% Sn 0.01% Zn 0.01%


The penalty limits for “tramp” elements in brass scrap are:

 Elements Limit Elements Limit Elements Limit
 Al 0.02% P 0.001% Pb 0.015%
 Si 0.02% Sn 0.03% Fe 0.01%