Zirconium Rod

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At Special Metal Fabrications we are proud of our Zirconium Rod manufacturing. Zirconium is a silvery, lustrous grey metal which is found in the Earth’s core bound to a variety of ores and compounds, the most common of which is zircon, from which the element gets its name. A chemical element, zirconium has the symbol Zr on the Periodic Table of Elements, and the atomic weight 40. With a very high melting point and powerful resistances to corrosion and oxidation thanks to a nanometre-thick passivation layer that naturally forms on it, zirconium is sought-after in a range of industries, and is commonly used in alloys and compounds.

What is Zirconium?

A soft, ductile metal at room temperature, zirconium is a shiny grey transition metal with a melting point of 1,855°C – much higher than the majority of other metals. Pure zirconium is also almost completely resistant to attack by common acids, alkalis and solvents, with the exception of hydrofluoric acid – one of the few which is able to react with its passivation layer and the metal underneath. However, at high temperatures, pure zirconium will react with water – keep that in mind if you’re considering using a pure zirconium rod at high heats!

As a chemical element, zirconium has its own place on the Periodic Table, with the elemental symbol Zr and the atomic number 40. It occurs naturally in the form of ores, which must be reduced before pure zirconium is obtained.

What are the Characteristics of a Zirconium Rod?

A zirconium rod is a rod of pure zirconium, available from Special Metals UK. Known for a high melting point and a resistance to corrosion, zirconium rods are ideal for use as blanks in the production of more complex zirconium pieces, or for use in the production of alloys and compounds. In addition to corrosion resistance and a high melting point, a zirconium rod has a very low neutron capture cross-section, making it ideal for use in cladding nuclear fuels, and it is physically malleable and ductile, easy to work into new shapes – especially by sintering.

As a powder, zirconium is highly flammable, but the solid form, as found in a zirconium rod, is much more difficult to ignite.

Zirconium Rods Have a Very High Melting Point

A pure zirconium rod has a melting point of 1,855°C, which is well above that of many other metals and makes zirconium rod a natural choice for use in high-heat environments. Often used in zirconium crucibles to provide its incredible heat resistance and corrosion resistance to the laboratory, or in refractories and furnaces, the very high melting point of a zirconium rod can also be integrated into an alloy which contains zirconium, raising the melting point of the resulting zircalloy.

Zirconium Rods Are Corrosion-Resistant

Zirconium is famous for its corrosion resistance, and zirconium rods are no different. Thanks to a nanometre-thick passivation layer that naturally forms all over the surface, zirconium is resistant to attack by almost all common acids and alkalis, with the one exception of hydrofluoric acid. A zirconium rod will also resist attack by solvents and oxidisers, making it ideal for use in the chemical industry – or any other application in which a metal must come into contact with caustic chemicals and materials, like seawater.

Zirconium Rods Have a Low Neutron Capture Ability

In addition to its other advantageous properties, a zirconium rod has a very low neutron-capture cross-section, making it ideal for use in cladding nuclear fuels within a reactor. Thanks to the low neutron capture ability of zirconium, the fissile material it protects will be shielded from the high-energy neutrons which spark off chain reactions in the nuclear reactor, allowing operators to keep the process under control and use only the amount of fuel they need to.

Zirconium Rods are Malleable and Ductile

Pure zirconium is malleable and ductile at room temperature. As pure zirconium is relatively soft, the material is usually purified and then sintered until solid and malleable enough for metalworking, before being machined or pressed into other shapes as necessary. The zirconium rod selection available from Special Metals UK is often sintered in this way.

Where is Zirconium Found?

Zirconium occurs naturally in the Earth’s crust, exclusively in the form of ores and compounds, which can be mined and reduced to yield pure zirconium. The most common ore for zirconium is zircon, which gives the element zirconium its name. The primary producers of zircon are Australia and South Africa, but other significant amounts are mined in Russia, India, the United States of America and Brazil.

How are Zirconium Rods Made?

The zirconium rod selection available from Special Metals UK are made from pure zirconium metal, purified and then formed into rods – usually by sintering, as this process is particularly suited to zirconium. The zirconium rods available from Special Metals are made to the dimensions you need, and will present uniform purity, construction and dimensions across your entire order.

What are the Uses for Zirconium Rods?

Zirconium rod can be used for a wide variety of applications across a range of industries, thanks to its desirable physical and chemical properties. Often machined or worked into more complex components, zirconium rods are also ideal for use in the production of alloys and zirconium-bearing compounds, as their high purity and uniform size and weight makes it very easy for precise amounts of zirconium to be measured out.

A zirconium rod can also be pressed or worked into cladding for nuclear fuels, to shield them from becoming part of a chain reaction thanks to its very low neutron-absorption ability. Its extremely high melting point means zirconium rods can be used as structural components in some high-heat applications, and its resistance to corrosion make it ideal for use in caustic environments.

Can Zirconium Rods be Used to Make Alloys?

Zirconium rods are ideal for use in making alloys, as the pure zirconium from which they are made is easy to measure out and cut for use in a precise alloying process. This helps result in reliable, high-quality alloy production, providing the results you need.

Contact Us Today!

If you feel that our manufacturing of bespoke Zirconium Rods would suit your needs, do not hesitate to contact us today! For more information on the zirconium rod range available from Special Metal Fabrication, call us on 01268 820409 or use the Enquiry form on this page! Alternatively, you can email us at sales@special-metals.co.uk.

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