Zirconium is a silvery-white, lustrous metal which occurs naturally in the Earth’s crust in the form of ores and compounds. Once mined, it can be reduced to its pure form, which is highly resistant to corrosion and oxidation, and which has an extremely high melting point. In its pure elemental form, zirconium is a malleable, ductile solid at room temperature, although it is hard and brittle if impure.
Elemental zirconium has the symbol Zr in the periodic table, and atomic number 40.
What are Zirconium Plates?
The zirconium plate selection available from Special Metals is made with pure zirconium, creating solid plates of the metal which have all the qualities and characteristics of pure zirconium metal, in an easily-utilised form. A zirconium plate from Special Metals UK has the corrosion resistance, high melting point and versatility of pure zirconium, in a convenient package.
Available in a variety of sizes, the zirconium plate available from Special Metals can be used in a wide variety of applications across a huge range of industries, from nuclear power to making compounds for ceramic knives and alloys for medical equipment. The plates are easy to store and transport, and are ideal for use as blanks for more complex components, or for use in alloying, as their uniform purity and dimensions makes it easy to measure out the precise amounts needed for the creation of high-quality alloys.
What are Zirconium Plates Used for?
Zirconium plates are used in a wide variety of industries to fit a range of roles. Commonly seen as components in refractories and other high-heat role, the very high melting point of pure zirconium makes this metal ideal for work at temperatures where other metals may grow soft or melt. This property is sought-after in superalloys containing zirconium – usually alloyed after being cut from a zirconium plate – which lends its high melting point and resistance to creep to the superalloy, creating superior jet engine turbines and other components that can perform well at high temperatures.
The most common – and, some would argue, the most important – use for zirconium plate is in the nuclear power industry, where the plates are used as cladding for nuclear fuels. As zirconium has an extremely low neutron-capture cross-section, it works as an effective shield for the nuclear fuels, preventing the reaction from growing too large or becoming a chain reaction.
What are the Characteristics of Zirconium Plates?
Zirconium plates are flat plates made from pure zirconium metal. Zirconium forms a nanometre-thick passivation layer all across its outer surface, which prevents any corrosion or oxidation. This makes zirconium plates almost completely resistant to corrosion, and protects it against reacting with acids and alkalis, except hydrofluoric acid – one of the only common acids that can cut through the oxidation layer.
A zirconium plate also has an extremely high melting point, of 1,855°C – one of the highest melting points of all metals! This makes zirconium plate perfect for use in refractories and furnaces, as well as in zirconium crucibles and in alloys which need to withstand high temperatures.
What are the Advantages of Zirconium Plates?
Zirconium plates have a range of advantages over other metals, which make them ideal for specialist uses in a range of industries. These advantages include:
Zirconium Plates are Corrosion Resistant
Thanks to the nanometre-thick passivation layer which coats their surface, zirconium plates are extraordinarily resistant to corrosion. Zirconium plate resists attack by acids and alkalis alike, and have no reaction to the majority of laboratory solvents in common use. The only potentially common acid capable of corroding zirconium plate is hydrofluoric acid – even seawater will be resisted. However, at high temperatures, zirconium will react with water – keep this in mind when choosing an application for your zirconium plate!
Zirconium Plates Have an Extremely High Melting Point
Zirconium plates have an extremely high melting point, able to remain solid up to 1,855°C – making them much more capable at high temperatures than the majority of other metals. This high melting point is sought after in the production of zircalloys, as it raises their own melting point and makes them better-suited for use in furnaces, jet engines and other stressful, high-temperature applications.
Zirconium Plates Have a Very Low Neutron Absorption Ability
As mentioned above, one of the primary applications for zirconium plate is in cladding for nuclear fuels. Thanks to a very low neutron-capture cross section, zirconium plate effectively shields the fuel from becoming involved in the nuclear fission reaction, protecting the reactor from a premature reaction or a potentially hazardous chain reaction, and ensuring good control of the process.
What is Zirconium?
Zirconium is a chemical element with the symbol Zr and the atomic number 40. It is a lustrous, greyish-white metal which is a solid at room temperature – and at temperatures up to 1,855°C, thanks to an extremely high melting point. Zirconium is found exclusively in ore form as a naturally-occurring element in the Earth’s crust, and can be reduced to its pure form once mined. Naturally resistant to corrosion and oxidation, zirconium finds many uses across a range of industries.
Where is Zirconium Found?
Zirconium is found in ore form in the Earth’s crust, usually in the form of zircon, its most plentiful ore, and is mined across the world. The main producers of zircon are Australia and South Africa, with economically-significant quantities also coming from Brazil, Russia, India and the USA, among a few other nations.
How are Zirconium Plates Made?
Once zirconium has been mined and extracted, it can be manufactured into zirconium plate. Sintering is a common process used for the creation of zirconium plate, as the very high melting point of pure zirconium makes casting and forging difficult. Sintering produces a very high-quality zirconium plate, with uniform purity and dimensions throughout.
Contact Us Today!
If you would like more information on our zirconium plate, or you’d like to place an order or request a quote, you can get in touch with Special Metals UK at any time using our telephone number, 01268 820409, or using the Enquiry form on this page!