ICA members invest approximately $50 million in initiatives producing positive impacts on sustainable development, including technical advances in renewable energy systems, air conditioning, efficient electric motors, and antimicrobial surfaces for public health. The International Copper Association’s Technology Development and Transfer program develops new ways to improve the use of copper in existing applications while creating new applications for copper.
Copper is essential for pushing the boundaries of innovation in cutting-edge fields, including nanoparticles, wearable technologies and space exploration. The copper industry, acting through ICA, funds pre-competitive research and development creating or enabling significant future market applications or enlarging existing ones.
As the industry moves forward, it must collaborate with partners to examine the ways copper’s intrinsic advantage can help society apply the benefits of copper for a better, sustainable world. Success will come from:
- Developing new materials: The copper industry continues to explore more cost-effective ways to produce and process new copper-based alloys, composites and compositions. The electrical connector and electronic packaging industries are two successful examples of this approach.
- Optimizing how copper is used or fabricated: ICA-sponsored development of cost-effective copper die casting is an example of collaborative process R&D with the copper industry.
- Innovation that counteracts material substitution: Development and deployment of small-diameter, inner-grooved (MicroGroove™) tube in air-conditioning systems is a current example of how to take advantage of copper’s unique attributes.
- Imaginative thinking: R&D teams need to think about how copper can be connected with new applications and work together to overcome technical challenges. For example, could a copper-based material conducting electricity five times better than pure copper at normal temperatures help make electric aircraft a reality?