RFID – these four letters hold great potential for the future. We’ve all had contact with radio frequency identification devices, for instance in the new personal ID cards. The small chips can be identified without contact, track goods, or open doors. Silver is always part of the equation, as very small silver antennae ensure the necessary transmission range.
THE MOON METAL
Silver has high electrical and thermal conductivity. It is also the whitest metal in general use and reflects 99.5 % of visible light. It is a relatively soft metal at the same time and can therefore be easily shaped. As a result, it is often alloyed with harder metals such as copper. Sterling silver (92.5 % silver and 7.5 % copper) is the standard silver for jewelry.
INDUSTRY 4.0 – IMPOSSIBLE WITHOUT SILVER
Silver is an important catalyst for the future of industry. It is used in new conductor technologies, computers, and household appliances. New markets include wearables, that is, minicomputers worn on the body. The metal is perfect for coating electrical contacts, and the chemical industry needs it as a catalyst for producing antifreeze, polyester, and solvents. Silver is also needed in the growing market of photovoltaics, with one solar cell containing about 120 mg of silver.
Silver is also crucial to Industry 4.0 applications, for instance in automated inventory control systems. Supermarkets of the future, for example, will use RFID systems to identify products in shopping carts, making checkout lines a thing of the past.
SILVER AT AURUBIS
Aurubis produces silver at the Hamburg site, recovering it from the anode slime of the copper tankhouse (this process is the same for most metals, with the exception of copper). The recovered silver is then formed into bars or granules with 99.9 % purity. Global silver demand was about 32,000 t in 2017 and is expected to continue growing by approximately 1.5 % in the coming years. Aurubis sold a total of about 877 t of silver in fiscal year 2017/18.
Silver was also key to establishing our identity. The permit that Salomon Beit received from the Hamburg Senate in 1770 to operate a silver separation and smelting furnace laid the foundation for the company that ultimately became Aurubis.