The Key Role Copper Has to Play in e-mobility Applications

Over the last 100 years we have all become used to an internal combustion engine (ICE) dominated world. Just as internal combustion engine vehicles need a network of filling sessions so will electric vehicles need a network of charging points. This charging infrastructure will be based heavily on copper-based technologies.

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Copper in various forms (such as wire shown here) will be in major demand due to e-mobility initiatives

Essential qualities of copper for e-mobility

Here are some essential chemical qualities of copper, which make it an ideal metal to use within e-mobility initiatives:

  • Corrosion resistance – copper has higher corrosion resistance than many alternatives and even whether corrosion occurs the electrical conductivity is frequently unaffected
  • Electrical conductivity – copper conducts (or transports) electricity very efficiently, which is a major benefit for e-mobility, particularly within copper wiring
  • High ductility – copper has a high ductility, which means under stress it will stretch but not typically break
  • High tensile strength – copper has a high tensile strength, this is beneficial for infrastructural copper wiring which resists nicks and breaks. Reliability is critical for e-mobility applications
  • Low thermal expansion – copper has a low coefficient of thermal expansion, this means that copper expands and contracts less than other metals (e.g. aluminium), which makes it ideal for electrical wiring applications
  • Thermal conductivity – copper has a strong ability to conduct thermal heat, which once again is ideal for copper wiring

Benefits of copper

The above essential qualities of copper lead to the following benefits for e-mobility:

  • Easy to install – copper is very easy to install, it requires minimal tooling and Electricians are already very familiar with working with this material
  • Improved driving efficiency – using copper in electric motors drives efficiency. Copper’s high conductivity means smaller motor components can be made, which can be packed much closer together. This means drive efficiency is improved as less power is lost through poor conductivity
  • Long life span – copper is known to have a long-life span, which is highly attractive for e-mobility infrastructure (e.g. chargers), which is expected to last for many decades
  • Recyclable – most copper components within electric vehicles can be recycled, including batteries where the copper can be extracted

SPI Lasers Video: Fiber Laser Cutting Copper (1mm)

Three areas where copper will play an important role in e-mobility

Copper is set to play an important role in the following three areas of e-mobility:

  • Charging infrastructure – copper is an essential part of charging infrastructure. It can commonly be found in cables, transformers and wiring to the electric panel
  • Electric vehicle production – here is how copper is used in electric vehicle production:
    • a small electric car uses about 40KG of copper, compared to 10KG for a small combustion engine car
    • copper parts include air conditioning systems, batteries, cables, mirrors and more
  • Energy storage – the storage of energy is a very copper intensive application. It is estimated that for every kWh (kilowatt hour) of a lithium ion battery between 1.1 to 1.2 KG of copper is used.
New electric vehicle charging infrastructure will drive demand for copper

New electric vehicle charging infrastructure will drive demand for copper


Related reading

Why not also read the following articles produced by SPI Lasers, which relate to how our lasers work with copper:

Future demand for copper

The demand for copper is set to soar due to e-mobility initiatives:

  • The International Copper Association is projecting an additional 600 Kilo Tons of copper demand relating to batteries only for e-mobility uses by the year 2027.
  • Both of these following statistics were sourced by Reuters:
    • The number of electric vehicles is forecast to grow from 3 million (in 2017) to 27 million in (2027), this will fuel copper usage
    • Overall copper demand for e-mobility is forecast to grow from 185,000 tons in 2017 to 1.74 million tons in 2027
  • The Internal Copper Association has revealed the following statistics relating to copper content per vehicle:
    • Full electric bus: between 224 KG and 369 KG of copper
  • Hybrid electric bus: around 89 KG of copper
  • Pure electric vehicle: around 83 KG of copper
  • Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle: around 60 KG of copper
  • Hybrid electric vehicle: around 39 KG of copper
  • Additionally, charging stations have between 0.7 KG (3.3 kW) and 8 KG (200 kW) of copper per charger

Contacting SPI Lasers

The above pages show just a few of the potential ways in which SPI’s fiber laser range can work with copper in a variety e-mobility applications. Speak to one of our friendly staff by contacting us now, we operate globally and can assist wherever you are located. Why not request a trial laser? Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed this article, if so click here to receive regular updates.


Image Credits: Disign and Avda Foto


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