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High Electrical Conductivity

Reviewed by Raghvendra GopalCheckmark | Last updated: March 28, 2022

What Does High Electrical Conductivity Mean?

High electrical conductivity refers to certain materials' ability to conduct a large amount of electrical current. It is also known as high specific conductance.

Electrical conductivity is abbreviated by the Greek letters sigma (σ) or kappa (κ). The International System of Units (SI) unit of electrical conductivity is Siemens per meter (S/m).

Generally, higher levels of electrical conductivity make the surrounding environment more corrosive, which it why it is helpful to measure a system's electrical conductivity to appropriately to prevent corrosion.

Conductivity and a materials capacity to convey energy correspond. There are certain feasible types of conductivity—and these include electrical and thermal conductivity. Copper and zinc are good choices, followed by iron, in the list of the most electrically-conductive materials.

Gold has the maximum electrical efficiency out of a selection of many components and is the lowest luminosity as well. Although gold is the strongest conductor, copper is more widely used in electrical applications because it costs less—even though gold is more corrosion-resistant.

Silver, although also highly conductive, tarnishes as high frequencies become less attractive and as the outer surface of the metal becomes less conductive. Silver is sometimes thought to be the best conductor because its electrons can move faster than other elements—which is attributed to the polarity of crystals and their structure.

Underground steel structures—such as utility piping, pipeline, tanks and pilings—placed in direct contact with soil environments are liable to corrosion attack. To prevent this, the method most commonly used for underground pipelines was to increase the pipeline's wall thickness. Factors that could influence corrosion in soil include, for example, oxidation-reduction (redox) potential, electrical resistance (resistivity), soluble ion content, pH, moisture content, and rates of microbes in the soil.

Soil resistivity is one of the main factors relating to underground corrosion. Many believe that, as soil resistivity becomes lower, groundwater develops a higher salt content and becomes more conductive and the corrosion of a buried metal becomes more severe. Soil resistivity is a function of soil moisture and the concentrations of ionic soluble salt; hence it is considered to be the most effective indicator of soil’s corrosivity.

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Corrosionpedia Explains High Electrical Conductivity

Electrical conductivity is the opposite of electrical resistivity.

Electrical conductivity is often associated with the corrosiveness of certain environments, such as for buried pipelines. Carbon steel pipelines are prone to corrosion due to moisture levels in the soil. The type of soil corrosion depends on the soil composition and other factors in the environment. The variability involved in these factors account for differences in corrosion attack.

Iron vessels buried in the soil could perforate after several months. As a rule, soils with high electrical conductivity, moisture and acidic content are the most corrosive. Therefore, burying exposed steel is not recommended, especially when it is used for electrical applications.

The appropriate temperature for measuring electrical conductivity is usually around 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit). Electrical conductivity depends on the temperature and is given by the formula:

s1 = s2 / [1 + a x (T1 – T2)]

Where:

  • s1 is the conductivity of the material at temperature T1.
  • s2 is the conductivity of the material at temperature T2.
  • a is the temperature coefficient.
  • T1 is the temperature at which the electrical conductivity is to be determined.
  • T2 is the temperature at which conductivity is measured or is known.

Factors for Electrical Conductivity

Some factors that determine conductivity include temperature, impurities and crystalline arrangement.

In silver, whenever its temperature varies or its conductivity changes with some conductor, the rising temperature induces particle excitation and increases conductivity which, in turn, increases resistivity.

The addition of impurities acts as a contaminating influence to a driver and decreases its conductivity. This is why silver isn’t as acceptable a conductor as unadulterated silver. This is also why oxidized silver isn’t not as acceptable a conductor as clean silver.

Crystalline arrangement matters as well in ensuring conductivity. If substance happens at specific intervals, it results in slow conductivity at that interface and conductivity may not be equal from one system to the other.

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Synonyms

High Specific Conductance, high specific conductivity

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Corrosion 101EnvironmentsTemperatureScientific PropertiesCorrosive ProcessElectrochemical PropertyElectrical Property

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