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Facts about zirconium

2018-07-10
Zirconium is a silver-gray transition metal, a type of element that is malleable and ductile and easily forms stable compounds. It is also highly resistant to corrosion. Zirconium and its alloys have been used for centuries in a wide variety of ways. 
It is commonly used in corrosive environments. Zirconium alloys can be found in pipes, fittings and heat exchangers, according to Chemicool. Zirconium is also used in steel alloys, colored glazes, bricks, ceramics, abrasives, flashbulbs, lamp filaments, artificial gemstones and some deodorants, according to Minerals Education Coalition.
Other uses for zirconium include catalytic converters, furnace bricks, lab crucibles, surgical instruments, television glass, removing residual gases from vacuum tubes, and as a hardening agent in alloys such as steel, according to Lenntech. Also, zirconium carbonate is used to treat poison ivy, according to the Jefferson Laboratory.
Zirconium has been found in S-type stars, the sun, meteorites and in lunar rocks, according to the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Lunar rocks appear to have a surprisingly high zircon content compared to terrestrial rocks, according to analysis of lunar rock samples from the various Apollo missions. 
On Earth, sources for zirconium are primarily the minerals zircon and baddeleyite (zirconium dioxide), which are mined in the United States, Australia, Brazil, South Africa, Russia, and Sri Lanka, according to Minerals Education Coalition. Zirconium's natural abundance in Earth's crust is 165 parts per million by weight, according to Chemicool.
Atomic number (number of protons in the nucleus): 40
Atomic symbol (on the periodic table of elements): Zr
Atomic weight (average mass of the atom): 91.22
Density: 3.77 ounces per cubic inch (6.52 grams per cubic cm)
Phase at room temperature: Solid
Melting point: 3,362 degrees Fahrenheit (1,850 degrees Celsius)
Boiling point: 7,952 F (4,400 C)
Number of natural isotopes (atoms of the same element with a different number of neutrons): 5. There are also 20 artificial isotopes created in a lab.
Most common isotopes: Zr-90 (51.5 percent of natural abundance), Zr-94 (17.38 percent of natural abundance), Zr-92 (17.15 percent of natural abundance), Zr-91 (11.2 percent of natural abundance), Zr-96 (2.8 percent of natural abundance)
Zircon, a gemstone, comes in blue, yellow, green, brown, orange, red and occasionally purple varieties. The word comes from the Persian "zargun" or gold color. It has been used in jewelry and other decoration for centuries, according to Peter van der Krogt, a Dutch historian. It comes closer to resembling a diamond than any other natural gem, according to Minerals.net. During the Middle Ages, zircon was even believed to induce sleep, promote wealth, honor and wisdom, and to drive away plagues and evil spirits.