Home' Australian Resources and Investment : May 2012 Contents Volume 6Number 2•AustralianResourcesandInvestment•117
Electric Cars: ICA, and other partners like McNair, Yulon and Nissan, have
identified three key technologies crucial to improved electric car performance:
battery thermal management, next generation wiring harness and EV heat pump
exchangers. All three are currently being tested and applied, with plans to have
all three innovations installed by one car company in the near future.
Seismic Building Dissipation: New copper technologies ensuring buildings can
withstand earthquakes better are being tested and developed in Asia and Chile.
These include things like torsion, lintel and shear panel devices that can be built
in to buildings for added protection.
Aquaculture: Fish farms are big business and copper alloy nets are finding a
home here because they’re a more durable and healthier option than those made
from other materials. ICA has been working with companies like Mitsubishi
Shindoh, Daechang and Wieland in Asia, and has now deployed 10 cages in
locations like Korea for field tests. Brass nets are already in use in Tasmania
and I expect to see more companies installing them in Australia this year.
Antimicrobial Copper: Antimicrobial Copper is also known as the Cu+ brand
and many companies in the Asia Pacific region are developing products for use
in health, childcare and transport. Other uses are quickly emerging as well,
and Chinese company Chigo has launched a healthier air conditioner, Coca
Cola is promoting a copper tank water dispenser and RenHome is selling Cu+
Ultra Conductive Copper: Copper’s always been the go-to metal for electricity
performance, but new efforts to infuse nano-carbon technology into copper wires
suggest conductivity could be boosted by another 40 per cent.
I think all this activity is great not only for Asia, but for Australia as well. Most
of our copper is exported as plain old concentrate with very little added to the value,
but by forging closer ties with Asian companies, governments and universities, we’re
creating new markets, products and opportunities. And that can only be good news
for the whole region.
John Fennell can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org
But construction booms are
notoriously fickle. Just this year
concerns over China’s property market
sent copper stocks into something of a
slump. That’s why new and innovative
ways of using copper across the Asia
Pacific region have been at the top of
my agenda and could signal important
opportunities for companies here.
Asia is proving to be a great place
to innovate. Not only are research
and development costs far lower than
in places like Australia or Europe,
but a large pool of fabricators and
manufacturers have the flexibility
to re-tool quickly to produce new
products in a market that is not only
highly competitive, but increasingly
Technology has been a rich vein for
copper in the last decade and there is
no end to the projects being explored by
the International Copper Association,
in partnership with commercial
companies and leading research
organisations from around the world,
that are already having commercial
impact. Some of the most promising
and practical have focused on improved
technologies for heating and cooling,
a market that’s seeing spectacular
growth in Asia, especially in India and
China, as more houses and apartments
are built, and a burgeoning middle
class begins to crave the consumer
electronics to fill them.
Nowhere is that more obvious
than in the uptake in air conditioning
machines, and ICA has been leading
efforts to make lighter and more energy
efficient appliances based on small
copper tubes. The work is being
developed in partnership with Original
Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) like
Haier, Midea and Gree, universities
like Shanghai Jao Tonc and a number
of government regulators in China.
The technology is currently being
further refined to move toward even
higher efficiencies based on smaller
tubes at four millimetres, and natural
refrigerants, with a global roadmap
expected to help propel the new
products into markets like Australia
and the United States.
A similar product pathway is
happening across a whole swathe
of technology innovations in Asia,
Antimicrobial copper for public health.
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