Enabling Sustainability for Cities and Water Utilities

Leading the way to efficient operations, responsible sourcing, and the development of sustainable products through the use of C87850 lead-free brass.

What’s the deal with C87850 lead-free brass and why is Mueller making the switch?

Where We Began

  • AWWA C800, Underground Service Line Valves and Fittings, was built around the use C83600 leaded brass.
  • Over the last two decades, the industry has transitioned to lead-free alloys for surfaces that contact potable water.
  • The transition was possible for most waterworks products because of the large number of lead-free alloys available to the market.
  • However, only three lead- free alloys have been available for C800 products and all are bismuth-based brass.

Why Investigate a Change?

In 2018, the U.S. Department of the Interior identified bismuth as one of 35 “critical” minerals

Critical is defined as

  1. A non-fuel mineral essential to the economic and national security of the U.S.
  2. Having a supply chain that is vulnerable to disruption
  3. Serves an essential function in manufacturing product and would have significant consequences if absent

Furthermore, the United States supply of bismuth is 90% reliant on imports and China controls over 80% of total world production

Why We're Transitioning

  • The AWWA C800 standard now includes the C87850 lead-free brass alloy.
  • Given the supply chain concerns with bismuth and availability of lead-free alternatives, Mueller is transitioning to C87850 silicon-based brass

This is the first step in Mueller’s commitment to eliminate use of materials that do not meet the definition of lead-free for all components in our waterworks product.

Where is C87850 Already Used?

Existing Applications

C87850 Demonstrates Excellent Dezincification Performance

What Is The Impact Of C87850 Use?

End of Life
  • Silicon is easily separated from copper through standard smelting processes.
  • Bismuth is not easily removed from copper in post-consumer recycling streams, which potentially limits recycling options and value.
  • Superior mechanical strength provides robust structural integrity that have never previously been available with AWWA C800 Service Brass products.
  • C87850 is:
    • Nearly twice the minimum tensile of bismuth-based brass and leaded red brass
    • 50% stronger in minimum yield than bismuth-based brass and leaded red brass
    • Equivalent in minimum elongation to C89833 bismuth-based brass

Silicon is the second most abundant element in earth’s crust while bismuth is only about twice as abundant as gold and is a byproduct of lead mining.

Alloy Manufacturing
Lower melt temperature, density, and slag (melt loss) than bismuth-copper alloys or leaded red brass.

Component Manufacturing
  • Lower melt temperature and reduced slag results in less energy use and reduced waste during the repetitive manufacturing melting process.
  • Lower melt temperature also results in extended foundry sand and furnace refractory life, furthering waste reduction.

The Advantages Of C87850 Use

Product Benefits

  • Due to its material strength, C87850 provides robust structural integrity not previously available with C800 products
  • Reduces risks associated with global supply chains due to greater access to necessary raw materials used

Environmental Benefits

  • Saves energy, lowers CO2 creation and fume emissions, and reduces hazardous waste.
  • Reduces dependency on scarce materials that rely on foreign sourcing, ensuring a more reliable sourcing strategy moving forward

Human Health Benefits

  • Reduces exposure to flue dust, silica and fume emissions
  • This is the first step in Mueller’s commitment to eliminate use of leaded red brass from components in our waterworks products, therefore lowering the risk for potential lead exposure

To learn more about C87850 lead-free brass and Mueller's commitment to developing more sustainable products, choose one of the options below:

Download new specifications and drawings from our website. Continue to follow your current submittal process.