Most people associate silver with jewelry or coins. This doesn’t do the shiny metal justice. Silver is one of the most useful metals known to man. It is the finest known heat conductor as well as an excellent conductor of electricity. Humans have been using silver for industrial purposes for hundreds of years, but silver has really started to shine in the electronic age. Here are some fascinating ways that silver is improving our everyday lives.
Solar Panels and Atomic Weapons
Whether you’re an astronaut living in the International Space Station or an environmentalist, you probably know the importance of solar panels today. If you do not have some sort of solar energy generating system you probably will in the short future. It is no surprise how popular solar panels have become. Who wouldn’t want to capture the free energy generated by the sun? We have silver to thank, in part, for this marvelous advancement. The average solar panel contains 20 grams of silver. In today’s market that is about $11 worth. Silver is used in two ways to generate the sun’s energy into a form we can power our electronics. First, it is used to create the pathways from the solar panels cells to the battery where the energy will be stored. Second, it is used to reflect sunlight into collectors.
Silver has a long history with other energy technologies in the past. During the Manhattan project in the late 30s, silver was used as wiring for magnets. Copper would normally have taken this job, but the beginning of World War II had started and all copper was needed elsewhere. Silver had a vital role in creating the first atomic weapons.
Medical Industry and Antibiotics
The medical industry has been a huge fan of silver ever since the discovery of its antibiotic uses which was about 6000 years ago. Silver was antibiotics before antibiotics were discovered. The rise of penicillin in the 20th century caused silver’s popularity in medicine to decline. Thanks to further advancement in technology, humans have learned to incorporate silver in clothing and medical equipment which has caused an explosion of demand. There is such a lengthy list of medical products that it is used in that it would take me 5 pages to list them. A good rule of thumb is that if it is touching a wound, cutting skin or an instrument going inside of the body, it is probably laced with silver.
Everyday Objects We Touch
Silver has made a revolution in our everyday lives and most of the time we don’t even know that we are using it. The last time you touch an ATM screen, you touched silver. Bathroom handles in public areas are starting to be coated with silver for its antibiotic uses. Public computers now have silver coated in their keyboards. Silver-zinc batteries were sent to the Moon in the Apollo Lunar rover. Even the phone in your pocket has a little bit of silver (and gold) helping to push the electrical circuit. The demand for silver in industry has exploded in the last 10 years and the uses for silver continue to increase.
Deodorizing with Silver
A new trend popping up is putting silver in home appliances for it’s wonderful deodorizing abilities. Putting a filter into a AC unit laced with silver has been noted to significantly reduce bacterial odors inside of houses. Samsung saw this trend and used that same idea but inside a line of their refrigerators. Hopefully other appliance manufactures will follow suit, no one likes a smelly fridge. There is even a cutting board brand that uses silver to help lower the odor in kitchens when cooking. Did you put deodorant on this morning? Yep, there’s silver chloride in most personal deodorants.
Clothing companies have been putting silver in socks to combat foot odor for years now. This led to bedding companies to coat their pillow and bedding encasements to kill odor causing bacteria. The uses for silver for odor fighting is virtually endless – in fact, you probably brushed your teeth with silver this morning.
Flying a Jet with Silver
Silver has a melting point at 961.8 C, making it perfect to make ball bearing electroplates. These bearing go inside of jet engines to help reduce friction and increasing the life and performance of the engine all while performing at extreme temperatures. In fact – even if an oil pump fails, silver will be able to perform long enough to safely shut the engine down before any severe damage occurs. Jets are not the only flying vehicle blessed with the shiny metal. Helicopter engines use silver for the same purpose.