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Faculty of Engineering

Department of Electrical Engineering

Electrical Material Engineering

Unit 2
Conduction in Conducting Materials
Part II
Choice of Conducting Materials

The choice of the conductor materials depend on the following:

1. Resistivity of material and its temperature coefficient
2. Mechanical properties; flexibility, ductility and tensile strength
3. Cost and availability
4. Corrosion resistance
5. Oxidation characteristics
6. Resistance to chemical attacks and weather conditions
7. Soldering characteristics

Choice of Conducting Materials

Corrosion resistance
Aluminum is affected by Galvanic Corrosion. When it gets in contact with
other metal (Cu) in the presence of water vapor it forms a galvanic cell and
Aluminum acts as anode subjected to corrosion.

High reaction Higher rate of

speed weight loss

Weight loss Heat effect
gets cut

Reduction in Resistance Cu . No Corrosion

diameter increase Al . easily affected by corrosion
Choice of Conducting Materials

Oxidation characteristics
Oxygen is an electronegative gas that tends to absorb electrons in the
form of oxidation to metals.

Reduction in
Reduction in Resistance
Oxidation Current carrying
effective diameter increase

2 2 . Conducting material
2 3 . Non-conducting material

Choice of Conducting Materials

Intentional Oxidation (Anodizing)

If the oxide coating 2 3 is made thicker, by electrochemical
treatment, it may also work for heat resistance and electrical insulation.
For some purposes oxide coatings is done on Al wires by passing them
in an electrolytic bath of 2% dilute solution of oxalic acid with
220 applied to them.
An oxidation layer of thickness 0.03 may withstand a voltage of
100 .
Application: Cable terminations

Choice of Conducting Materials

Resistance to chemical attacks and weather conditions

In working field with probability of chemical attacks or severe
environmental conditions metals are susceptible to react with acids and

Even when copper reacts with acids like 2 4 , it turns in to a

conducting material such as 2 4 .

On the other hand, it is not the case in aluminum, where the products
from reaction with acids are non-conducting.

Choice of Conducting Materials

Soldering characteristics
Gold and silver involve no problems in soldering

Copper is easily soldered by Tin.

For Aluminum

a sleeve metal (made of Al)

Then the sleeve is compressed on the metal surface of the two
aluminum conductors to be soldered.
There is still some how faults or imperfections in soldering, therefore
aluminum can't be soldered.

Classification of Conducting Materials in Industrial App.

1. Elemental Conductors; Silver, Copper, Aluminum, Platinum, Nickel

Applications: Cables, windings of machines,

2. Alloy Conductors; applications that requires high resistance values,

e.g. Heaters and Resistors

3. Extra Conductors: These are conductors of special characteristics and

specially manufactured for certain purpose, e.g. Thermocouples,

Elemental Conductors
1. Copper (Cu)

= 1.73 108 . = 8.9 /3

= 0.004

= 16 40 2

It has strong mechanical characteristics; tough and ductile so it can be

drawn and rolled.

It has high resistance to corrosion and experiences No Oxidation.

Elemental Conductors
Types of Copper Conductors

A. Cold Drawn Copper

Mechanically strong
Used in busbars.

B. Annealed Copper (soft Cu)

Mechanically weaker than the cold drawn copper, but it can be
easily shaped because it has a higher flexibility.
It has a higher conductivity.
Used in cables, windings and insulated coils.
Elemental Conductors
Types of Copper Conductors

C. Commutator Copper Conductor Material

Used for making commutator segments in electric machines
Hard, resistive to wear and oxidation
Usually manufactured in strips of 2 5 meters long.

Elemental Conductors
2. Aluminum (Al)

= 2.87 108 . 1.5

= 2.9 /3 3

= 0.004

= 8 2

It can be easily drawn, forged and rolled.

Problems: Oxidation, Corrosion and Soldering.

Elemental Conductors
Types of Aluminum Conductors

A. Cold Drawn Aluminum

Higher resistivity and tensile strength
Applications: Wiring.
Overhead Transmission Line (OHTL) Conductors
Winding of small transformers

B. Annealed Aluminum (soft Al)

Higher ductility, conductivity and tensile strength
Applications: Busbars, windings of small machines, cables
Elemental Conductors
3. Lead (Pb)

= 5 107 . = 11.7 /3

= 0.005

High ductility and conductivity.

Low melting point

Shield for communication cables
via dissipation of external fields

Elemental Conductors
3. Lead (Pb)

Sheath in power cables
to safeguard users through
dissipation of electrostatic deposited charge.

Fuse Element
When short-circuit takes place the current
and in turn the power dissipation rise suddenly.
So the metal of which the element inside
the fuse tube is made must have low melting point, e.g. Pb.
Elemental Conductors
4. Tungsten (W)

= 5 107 . = 2 /3

= 0.005

High Melting Point = 3500

Applications: Filaments of incandescent lamps and electrodes of gas

discharge lamps.
Sealing for vacuum tubes.

Alloy Conductors
Characteristics: High resistivity with very low
Highly resistant to oxidation and melting at high
temperatures applied for long time

Applications: Heating elements in electric heating devices

Starting apparatus
Reference resistors

Types: Nichrome, 80/20 alloy of nickel and chromium

Constantan, 55/45 alloy of copper and nickel
Manganin, 86/12/2 alloy of copper, manganese and nickel
Extra Conductors
1. Thermal Bimetals
Two strips of metals bound together
which elongate with temperature.

The two metals have different

temperature coefficient of resistivity
and different thermal expansion

Extra Conductors
1. Thermal Bimetals
Thermal relay
Switching and disconnection for contact circuits in protection systems for
motors and electrical appliances against overloads.

Temperature Measurements
The radius of curvature gives an indication of temperature rise.

Extra Conductors
2. Thermocouple Materials

When two different metals or alloys are connected together at a junction

point and this junction is placed at a temperature difference, an e.m.f is
induced due to:
I. Seebeck emf
due to the junction dissimilarity of metals
II. Peltier emf
due to the current circulation
I. Thomson emf
due to the temperature gradient

Extra Conductors
2. Thermocouple Materials

+ 2
+ 2

ASTM Thermoelement Minimum & Maximum
E-230 Alloys Temperatue Range
Letter C F
Pt 30% Rh
B 870 to 1700 1600 to 3100
Pt 6% Rh
E -200 to 870 -328 to 1600
J 0 to 760 32 to 1400
K -200 to 1260 -328 to 2300
N 0 to 1260 32 to 2300
Pt 13% Rh
R 0 to 1480 32 to 2700
Pure Pt
Pt 10% Rh
S 0 to 1480 32 to 2700
Pure Pt
T -200 to 370 -328 to 700