Zirconium Metal

Zirconium is the 20th most abundant element of the periodic system. It is only found in a fully oxidized state, never as a free metal. The over 40 known minerals can be roughly grouped in zirconium orthosilicates, zirconium dioxide, zirconium silicates (with Na, Ca, Fe, and other elements), zirconium carbonates (with Na, Ca, and other elements), and others.

The commercially most important mineral is zircon (ZrSiO4), which contains contaminations of Hf, Fe2O3, and CaO. The ore is recovered from sand deposits in the coastal areas of Australia, Florida, South Africa, India, Russia, and Kazakhstan.Apart from zircon, baddeleyite ZrO2 and eudialyte are also commercially employed.

Zirconium metal powder is usually produced by reducing zirconium dioxide ZrO2. ZrO2 is either supplied as baddeleyite, or obtained by caustic fusion of zircon in a sodium-hydroxide melt.

A good review on the variety of zirconium is given in an article in Ullmann’s Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry1.

1[Peter Rittmeyer, Ulrich Wietelmann, Ullmann’s Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry, Wiley-VCH Verlag, Weinheim 2002].

Purity Levels

There are various grades of zirconium metal powder and hydrides available.

The classification of Albemarle's zirconium products is not governed by the chemical assay. Instead, the different grades available are regarded as performance parameters and defined by a specific interaction of physical properties.

These physical properties are primarily expressed by:

  • Ignition point,
  • Combustion rate,
  • Ignition gain, and
  • Particle size.
Safety Guidelines (Handling, Packaging and Properties)

Handling Guidelines

The information given below is intended to outline potential hazards associated with the use of zirconium, zirconium hydride, titanium, titanium hydride and Zr/Ni-alloys in powdered form.

More important, it supplies appropriate advice for secure handling and will help the reader to use our products safely.

All product information is given to the best of our knowledge and according to the present state of the art, but does not indemnify the user from his own responsibility to exclude all risks associated with application and handling himself. It is recommended that processes involving the handling of such powders are to be additionally reviewed by occupational safety specialists

If you need any further information on this topic, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Packaging Guidelines

Due to the hazardous nature of metal powders and metal hydrides the requirements for safe packaging are extremely important. The choice of appropriate packaging is determined by our product knowledge and the applicable official transport regulations.

In principle, we offer different types of containers:

  • Ring-pull cans used for dry products,
  • Lever-lid cans suitable for dry products, with or without pre-packaging in PE bags
  • Double-seamed tin cans and open-top cans (metal-clamped) suitable for dry products and as transport containers for suspended products pre-packaged in PE bottles.

Properties of Zirconium Products

We supply information on the major performance parameters, which is the basis of our definition of the various grades of available zirconium and titanium metal powders and hydrides.

Please see our "Overview of Zirconium Products".