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Where Zirconium is Used

Industrial grade zirconium

Industrial zirconium is mainly used for the production - chemical corrosion resistance equipment in military and electronic industry, pipeline valve materials, special high strength and high-temperature alloy materials, electric vacuum, and lighting industry getter.

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Firearm zirconium

It is also used in the combustion of the flame zirconium sponge, and also can be used in alloy additives and metallurgical deoxidizer, chemical industry, civil flash fireworks, and so on.

Global zirconium consumption region

At present, China and Europe are the main consumer market of zirconium, China's demand for zirconium accounted for up to 52%. China's nuclear power has entered the stage of rapid development of nuclear zirconium demand. At the same time, China is the world's largest producer and exporter of ceramic industry, the zirconium silicate ceramic industry is the direct and main raw material. With the rapid development of China's ceramic industry in recent years, zirconium demand has soared.

Zirconium industry chain

Zirconium has a rich variety of products, a variety of forms, the initial mineral form is zircon sand, after caustic soda and washing, can produce zirconium silicate and zirconium oxychloride and other primary products; after calcination, chlorination, and reduction, it can be made two zirconia, industrial zirconium sponge and other products; if the purification and separation technology reached a certain level, can be made into nuclear-grade zirconium sponge.

Zirconium is widely used in many fields, mainly used in the form of zirconium silicate, zirconium oxide in ceramics, refractories, and other fields. Only 3%-4% of zirconium ore is processed into zirconium (or sponge zirconium) and then processed into a variety of zirconium materials. Because the metal zirconium has the characteristics of small thermal neutron absorption cross-section, made the metal zirconium great nuclear properties, nuclear grade zirconium is used as nuclear powered aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, and civilian power reactor structural materials, uranium fuel element cladding, etc. Nuclear grade zirconium can be regarded as an important strategic metal, and closely related to the development of the nuclear industry.

As an active metal, the zirconium oxide film is formed at room temperature, which makes the zirconium and its alloys have excellent corrosion resistance. At the same time, zirconium has good mechanical and heat transfer performance, coupled with a significant cost advantage, making it an excellent corrosion-resistant structural material in the petrochemical industry.
In the chemical acid and alkali resistant equipment, military, electronics industry, the application of zirconium called industrial grade zirconium. From the aspects of processing difficulty, technology level and scientific and technological content, zirconium and its alloy products are at the top of the industrial chain.

Zirconium products and their applications

Zirconium silicate

Zirconium silicate is an important kind of traditional zirconium product. Products can be prepared with zircon sand as raw material, after grinding, calcination, powder, is a kind of high quality and inexpensive ceramic glaze opacifying agent, mainly used in ceramics and porcelain, building ceramics color glaze production, has been widely used in high-grade refractory materials, precision casting, emulsified glass, and other industries.

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Zirconium carbonate

- mainly used as cosmetic additives and waterproof agent, flame retardant, sunscreen, fiber, and paper surface additives, and can be used for preparing zirconium cerium catalytic composite material, is an important raw material for textile, papermaking, paint, cosmetics industry, the amount of growth in recent years.

Zirconium oxychloride

It can be used other zirconium products such as two - zirconium oxide, zirconium carbonate, zirconium sulfate, zirconium oxide, zirconium and hafnium compound preparation and separation of zirconium and hafnium metal material, can also be used for textile, leather, rubber additives, metal surface treatment agent, coating driers, refractories, ceramics, catalyst, fire retardant, and other products.

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Fused zirconia

Fused zirconia, mainly used in the production of glazes and refractories. Due to the high content of impurities in the fused zirconia, the use is limited.

Zirconium sulfate

It is an important raw material in the production of leather tanning agent, wool processing agent, and paint surface oxidation agent, can be used as a catalyst carrier, amino acid, and protein, precipitant, and deodorant, intermediate raw materials are for zirconium chemicals and metal zirconium and hafnium.

Two zirconium oxide

The white solid, non-toxic, tasteless, has enough stability of alkali solution and many acidic solutions, suitable for precision ceramics, electronic ceramics, optical lenses, glass additives, dissolving zirconia brick, ceramic pigment, glaze, artificial stone, refractory materials, grinding, and polishing industry and products.

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Composite zirconia

It is also known as semi-stable, stable zirconia is white powder non-toxic, tasteless, stable chemical properties, the specific surface area is controllable, manufacturing all kinds of special ceramics, advanced refractories, new energy materials, optical communication devices, based on raw materials.

Zirconia structural ceramics

Using the composite zirconium oxide as the raw material, including two kinds of products such as zirconia grinding and zirconia structure, the structure of zirconia mainly includes the zirconia special ceramic valves, fiber optic connectors, ceramic knives, watches accessories, ceramic scissors, textile porcelain, etc.

Nuclear grade zirconium

It is an important strategic metal used primarily for nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, and civilian power reactors, as well as the cladding of uranium fuel elements.

Industrial grade zirconium

It is mainly used for the production of industrial-grade zirconium - chemical corrosion resistance equipment, military industry, electronic industry, pipeline valve materials, special high strength and high-temperature alloy materials, electric vacuum, and lighting industry getter.

Firearm zirconium

It is also used in the combustion of the flame zirconium sponge, and also can be used in alloy additives and metallurgical deoxidizer, chemical industry, civil flash fireworks, and so on.

Global zirconium consumption region

At present, China and Europe are the main consumption market of zirconium.

About the author

Chin Trento

Chin Trento holds a bachelor’s degree in applied chemistry from the University of Illinois. His educational background gives him a broad base from which to approach many topics. He has been working with writing advanced materials for over four years in Stanford Advanced Materials (SAM). His main purpose in writing these articles is to provide a free, yet quality resource for readers. He welcomes feedback on typos, errors, or differences in opinion that readers come across.

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