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Industrial, commercial, and consumer demand
The traditional use of silver in photographic development has been dropping since 2000 due to the decline of film photography. However, silver is also used in electrical appliances (silver has the lowest resistivity of industrial metals), photovoltaics (one of the highest reflectors of light), RoHS compliant solder, clothing and medical uses (silver has antibacterial properties). Other new applications for silver include RFID tags, wood preservatives, water purification and food hygiene. The Silver Institute have seen a noticeable increase in silver-based biocide products coming onto the market, as they explain:
Currently we’re seeing a surge of applications for silver-based biocides in all areas: industrial, commercial and consumer. New products are being introduced almost daily. Established companies are incorporating silver based products in current lines – clothing, refrigerators, mobile phones, computers, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, keyboards, countertops, furniture handles and more. The newest trend is the use of nano-silver particles to deliver silver ions.
Data from 2010 reveals that a majority of silver is being used for industry (487.4 million ounces), jewelry (167.0 million ounces), and investments (101.3 million ounces). Approximately 500 ounces of silver are used in every Tomahawk (missile).
The expansion of the middle classes in emerging economies aspiring to Western lifestyles and products may also contribute to a long-term rise in industrial and jewelry usage.
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