Zirconium metal is widely used in the fields of aerospace, military industry, nuclear reaction, and atomic energy. Generally, titanium products used in spacecraft with high corrosion resistance are far inferior to zirconium, whose melting point is around 1600 degrees, while that of zirconium is above 1800 degrees, and the melting point of zirconia is more than 2,700 degrees.
Therefore, as an aerospace material, zirconium has much better performance than titanium in all aspects.
Zirconium absorbs nitrogen, hydrogen, and oxygen as strongly as lithium and titanium. When the temperature exceeds 900 degrees Celsius, zirconium can absorb nitrogen violently. At 200 degrees Celsius, 100 grams of metal zirconium can absorb 817 liters of hydrogen, which is more than 800,000 times the amount of iron.
Zirconium, when heated, can absorb a large amount of oxygen, hydrogen, ammonia, and other gases, which is an ideal getter. For example, zirconium powder is used as the degassing agent in electron tubes, and zirconium wire and zirconium sheet are used as grid support and anode support.
Zirconium can also be used as a “Vitamin” in the metallurgical industry, playing a powerful role in deoxygenation, nitrogen removal, and sulfur removal. When a thousandth of zirconium is added to steel, its hardness and strength are dramatically improved; zirconium-containing armor steel, stainless steel, and heat-resistant steel are important materials for the manufacture of defense weapons such as armored vehicles, tanks, artillery, and bulletproof panels.
When zirconium is mixed with copper to form copper wires, the electrical conductivity does not weaken but the melting point is greatly improved, so it is very suitable to be used as a high-voltage wire; Zr-containing zinc magnesium alloys, which are light and high-temperature resistant, are twice as strong as conventional magnesium alloys and can be used in the manufacture of jet engine components.
Zirconium powder is characterized by low ignition and fast burning and can be used as a starting agent for detonators, advanced detonators that can explode even underwater. The effect of adding zirconium powder on an oxidizer is like adding fuel to the fire, creating a blinding glare, and therefore a good material for tracer and flare.
Zirconium alloy is a nonferrous alloy with zirconium as the substrate and other elements are added, and the main alloy elements are tin, niobium, iron, and so on. Zirconium alloy has good corrosion resistance, moderate mechanical properties, low thermal neutron absorption cross-section of atoms in 300 ~ 400 ℃ and high pressure in water and steam, as well as good compatibility with nuclear fuel, so it is mainly used as core structure material of water-cooled nuclear reactor.
In addition, zirconium metal has excellent corrosion resistance to a variety of acids, bases, and salts, and has a strong affinity with gases such as oxygen and nitrogen. Therefore, zirconium alloys are also used in the manufacture of corrosion-resistant parts and pharmaceutical mechanical parts, and they are also widely used as the non-evapotranspiration disinfectant in the electric vacuum and light bulb industries.
Zirconia is the main material of new-type ceramics, and cannot be used as the heating material for resisting high-temperature oxidation. Zirconia can be used as an additive for acid-proof enamel and glass, which can significantly improve the elasticity, chemical stability, and heat resistance of glass. Zirconite has good reflectance and thermal stability and can be used as an optimizer in ceramics and glass.
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