Zirconium is a chemical element, with the symbol Zr and atomic number 40. Unlike Tantalum and Niobium, Zirconium did not get its name from mythology – instead, it is named for zircon, the most important natural resource for the production of zirconium, which is itself named from the Persian word zargun – “gold coloured”.
Zirconium is used in a huge variety of processes in all facets of industry, including as an opacifier, in the production of refractories, and in alloys and coatings which must protect the structure beneath from extreme heat – as in jet turbines and missile components.
What is Zirconium?
Zirconium is a shiny, greyish-white metal which is soft, ductile and malleable when pure and at room temperature. When impure, it is very hard and brittle. It is a transition metal, and is solid under room temperature and pressure, with a very high melting point, retaining its strength and structure at temperatures where many other metals would become soft or melt. This makes it valuable for use in alloys and high-temperature applications, such as in jet engines or refractories, where it’s high heat tolerance ensures good performance at high temperatures.
Zirconium is found in naturally-occurring ores and compounds but must be reduced to the pure element, which is an expensive and time-consuming process. However, this purification process is well worth the effort, as pure zirconium is valuable and useful in a wide variety of applications.
What are the Characteristics of Zirconium Bars?
The zirconium bars sourced by Special Metals UK are composed of pure zirconium, processed into bars of uniform weight and dimensions. This makes them exceptionally easy to store, transport and work with. Perfect for use as blanks in the production of other, more complex zirconium components, or to provide the exact weights needed for creating zirconium alloys and compounds, the zirconium bars available from Special Metals UK are the industry gold standard for purity, quality and utility. Don’t just take our word for it, though – see for yourself! If you would like to get in touch with Special Metals UK to enquire about our zirconium bars or request a quote, you can call us on our telephone number, 01268 820409, or use the enquiry form on this page to get in touch!
Where is Zirconium Found?
Zirconium is not found in its pure form in nature, but its ores are found in the Earth’s crust at a concentration of about 130mg/kg. While certainly not one of the most abundant elements, it can be mined in significant quantities, and the primary ore for zirconium production at the moment is zircon – the ore from which the element takes its name.
The primary production areas for raw zircon are Australia, Brazil, India, Russia, South Africa and the United States, with some smaller deposits being mined around the world. Around 60% of the world’s zircon mining occurs in Australia and South Africa, but as production shifts from zircon to other zirconium-containing ores in future, these mining centres will likely shift to reflect the change.
How are Zirconium Bars Made?
Zirconium bars are made from pure zirconium, the ores of which are by-products of titanium and tin mining in many parts of the world. Once extracted from the earth, the ore is purified by reduction, resulting in a quantity of pure zirconium metal, which can then be cast or sintered into bars of the pure metal. The pure zirconium bars available from Special Metals UK are made in this way.
What are Zirconium Bars Used For?
Zirconium bars have a range of applications across many industries. Where a pure zirconium component is required, these bars form a perfect blank for machining or other manufacturing processes, or can be ground into pure zirconium powder for sintering or inclusion in chemical blends – as some zirconium is used in propellants, explosives and chemical compounds, this is an economically and industrially significant use for them.
Alternatively, the pure zirconium bars available from Special Metals can be used in the production of zirconium alloys and compounds, where more specialised or specific material and chemical properties are required.
Zirconium is an important metal in shielding and cladding reactor fuel in the nuclear power industry, thanks to its extremely high corrosion resistance and neutron-absorbing properties, and it is also seen in missile components, refractories and protective coatings for high-performance components in aerospace engineering.
Can Zirconium Bars Be Used to Make Alloys?
Zirconium bars are perfect for the production of alloys – a significant proportion of the world’s zirconium is used this way. Usually consisting of blends of majority zirconium with small amounts of tin, niobium, iron, chromium, nickel and other metals, these alloys improve upon the physical, mechanical properties of the material without disrupting the beneficial traits of the zirconium, creating a material which is well-suited to specific applications and often able to operate in conditions which many other materials would find prohibitive.
Zirconium alloys are commonly used for nuclear shielding, as mentioned above, but they are also biocompatible and corrosion-resistant, with a nanometre-thin passivation layer which protects them from oxidation. This makes them ideal for use in medical implants, such as knee or hip replacements.
The zirconium bars available from Special Metals UK are ideal for use in alloying thanks to their purity and dimensions which make them easy to precisely measure and cut, providing exactly the amount of zirconium required for the production of a superior-quality alloy.
Contact Us Today!
If you are interested in the zirconium bars available from Special Metals UK, or you would like more information about what we can provide for you, then you can get in touch with us using our telephone number, 01268 820409, or use the enquiry form on this page to contact us! The metals experts at our head office have decades of experience and are proud to provide industry-leading service: whatever you need, Special Metals will be able to help you!
Whether you’re looking for a shipment of zirconium bars, or just for some advice and information, you can contact us. So what are you waiting for? Get in touch with Special Metals today!