Metal Applications

Specification Point 5.7 C:
  • Explain how the uses of metals are related to their properties (and vice versa), including aluminium, copper and gold and their alloys including magnalium and brass.

Aluminium Alloys

  • Aluminium is mixed with copper, manganese and silicon for aircraft body production as aluminium alloys tend to be stronger and lighter than pure aluminium.
  • Aluminium and magnesium (5%) make an interesting alloy called magnalium which is also used extensively in automobile and aircraft construction.
  • As well as being lighter and stronger, it is also more corrosion resistant than aluminium.
  • Magnalium with 50% magnesium is used in the production of fireworks as it is more stable than pure magnesium but still burns brightly.

Copper Alloys

  • Bronze is an alloy made of copper and tin. It is harder than copper and is used to make ornaments and medals.
  • Brass is a common example of an alloy which contains 70% copper and 30% zinc. It is decorative and corrosion resistant and is used for low friction ornamental purposes such as plumbing and carpentry fittings.

Modern Brass Tap, Edexcel GCSE Chemistry

Brass is used extensively in modern kitchen and bathroom fittings

Gold Alloys

  • Gold alloys are used to make jewellery.
  • Gold metal is relatively soft and malleable so other metals such as copper, zinc and silver are added to provide strength and toughness.
  • Carats are used to express the purity of gold jewellery.
  • Pure gold with nothing else added is said to be 24 carat.
  • A 12 carat piece of gold jewellery therefore contains 50% gold.
  • For example a 12 carat necklace that weighs 50g contains 25 grams of gold.

Coloured Gold Rings, Edexcel GCSE Chemistry

Rose, yellow and white gold are alloys of gold with varying proportions of Cu, Pd and Ag

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Morgan Curtin Chemistry

Author: Morgan

Morgan’s passion for the Periodic Table begun on his 10th birthday when he received his first Chemistry set. After studying the subject at university he went on to become a fully fledged Chemistry teacher, and now works in an international school in Madrid! In his spare time he helps create our fantastic resources to help you ace your exams.