Applications for Copper-Nickel Alloys

Copper-nickel alloys are widely used for marine applications due to their excellent resistance to seawater corrosion, good fabricability, and their effectiveness in the lowering macrofouling levels. They are also used in non-marine applications due to their durability, appearance and antimicrobial properties. Major applications for copper-nickel alloys are detailed here.

Marine Applications

  • Copper-nickel seawater system piping
    Shipbuilding and Repair: Copper-nickel can be used for seawater cooling, bilge and ballast, sanitary, fire fighting, inert gas, hydraulic and pneumatic and chiller systems. They can also be used for cargo tank heating coils and feed lines to desalination plants. This is illustrated by an interactive schematic of ship systems.
  • Alba desalination plant.
    Desalination Plants: Copper-nickels are established alloys in thermal desalination plants. In Multi-Stage Flash (MSF) desalination, copper-nickel is commonly used for heat rejection and recovery sections and brine heaters. For Multiple Effect Distillation (MED), copper-nickels are used for tubing in the evaporator section. 
  • Offshore oil and gas platform; Courtesy KME.
    Offshore Oil and Gas Platforms and Processing: Copper-nickel alloy systems are used on offshore oil and gas platforms and floating production, storage and offloading vessels (FPSOs). Splash zone sheathing in 90-10 Cu-Ni is described.
  • Salt cool water piping at the Allen TVA power plant
    Power Generation: Copper-nickel pipes and components can be used in steam turbine condensers, oil coolers, auxiliary cooling systems and high pressure pre-heaters at nuclear and fossil fuel power plants. They can be used to convey clean seawaters, brackish water and fresh water. Copper-nickel also offers major benefits in marine renewable energy (e.g., wind farms and wave and tidal devices).
  • Copper-nickel seawater piping
    Seawater System Design: Managing corrosion with minimal maintenance and a high degree of reliability are major concerns in seawater system design. Means of achieving good performance are given for copper-nickel heat exchangers and piping. Water hammer, pressure systems and management of galvanic issues are also discussed.
  • Copper-nickel fittings, reducers and elbows
    Seawater System Components: Copper-nickel condenser and heat exchanger tubes, tubesheets, piping, fittings, pumps, and water boxes are essential components of high-quality seawater system design. Suitable materials for pumps and valves in copper-nickel systems are also discussed.
  • Copper-nickel boat hull
    Hulls of Boats and Ships: Copper-nickel's unique combination of high resistance to corrosion and biofouling provide a novel yet practical material for boat hulls. Examples of hull construction in solid plate and clad steel plate are given as well as application as a sheathing.
  • Cruise liner
    Antimicrobial: Copper-nickel alloys are antimicrobial. Bacteria, viruses and fungi cannot survive on copper-nickel surfaces. Link is provided to a dedicated Website on antimicrobial copper.

Non-Marine Applications

  • Non-marine applications for copper-nickel include cryogenic applications and silver-colored coins, such as the 1- and 2-euro denominations and the 5-cent U.S. nickel. Since copper-nickel alloys have strong antimicrobial properties, they are also used increasingly as hygienic "touch materials" to reduce cross-contamination and infections, particularly in hospital intensive care units.


  1. Copper-Nickel Alloys: Properties, Processing, Application, Booklet, German Copper Institute (DKI), English translation .
  2. Copper Nickel Alloys, Properties and Applications, TN 30, , Joint Publication of the Copper Development Association (UK) and the Nickel Development Institute, Joint Publication of the Copper Development Association (UK) and the Nickel Development Institute .