Zirconium Metal | Properties | Uses | and Facts - Elements and Compounds


Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Zirconium Metal | Properties | Uses | and Facts

Properties Uses and Facts about Zirconium

    What is Zirconium

    Zirconium is a metal, classified as a transition metal, and chemically it is an element. The density of zirconium is 6.49 grams per cubic centimeter. Its atomic weight is 91.224 AMU, atomic number 40 and its symbol (Zr). In the Periodic Table, Zirconium is located in Group 4, Period 5 and Block (D). Its atom has 40 electrons, 40 protons, 51 neutrons and 5 energy levels. Zirconium metal is found in the solid state at room temperature, with a melting point of 1852 °C (3366 °F) and a boiling point of 4409 °C (7968 °F).

    Zirconium metal was discovered by the German chemist Martin Heinrich Klaproth in 1789.
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    Zirconium Metal Properties Uses and Facts

    Properties of Zirconium Metal

    • Zirconium is a shiny silver-grey metal.
    • Ultra-pure zirconium is a strong, malleable, and ductile metal, whereas zirconium at 99% purity is hard and brittle.
    • The corrosion resistance of zirconium metal is very good.
    • Zirconium metal is transparent to neutrons, meaning it does not absorb neutrons, neutrons pass through zirconium without any hindrance.
    • Oxygen and nitrogen present in the air react with zirconium to form a layer of oxides and nitrides, which makes it highly corrosion resistant to acids, alkalis, atmosphere and sea water.
    • Zirconium powder is highly flammable, it ignites spontaneously at ordinary temperature and especially at high temperature.
    • Zirconium is a good conductor of electricity and heat.
    • Zirconium is chemically less reactive, but its chemical reactivity increases at higher temperatures.
    • Zirconium dissolves in hydrofluoric acid.

    Uses of Zirconium Metal

    • Zirconium is most commonly used in nuclear plants, zirconium does not absorb neutrons, this property makes this metal useful for nuclear plants. Nuclear plants can have zirconium alloy tubing of more than 100 kilometers in length. About 90% of the total zirconium produced is used in nuclear plants.
    • Zirconium metal has very good corrosion resistance, so it is used in the chemical industry to make high performance valves, pumps and other equipment.
    • Zirconium and niobium alloys are superconductors at low temperatures and are used to make superconductive magnets.
    • Zirconium metal is added to steel as an alloying agent to make certain types of surgical instruments and precision tools.
    • Zirconium dioxide can tolerate very high temperatures, so it is used in crucibles and high-temperature furnaces.
    • Zircon (ZrSiO4), a compound of zirconium, is a clear transparent semiprecious stone, found in different colors, used in jewelry in place of diamond.
    • Zirconium metal can adsorb gases such as oxygen, nitrogen, and hydrogen, so it is used as a trace gas removal material in vacuum tubes.
    • Zirconium alloy is used in making drill bits for concrete.
    • Zirconium is used to make blue and yellow pigments for glazing pottery.

    Interesting Facts about Zirconium metal

    • Zirconium 18 is the most abundant element in the earth's crust. This metal is present on earth in about twice as much quantity as metals like copper and zinc and about 10 times more than lead metal.
    • Zirconium is abundant on Earth, but it is widely dispersed, and not concentrated in any one place.
    • Below a certain temperature, zirconium and zinc alloys become magnetic.
    • The most important ore of zirconium is zircon (ZrSiO4).
    • Australia is the largest producer of zirconium in the world.

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