Ideal for specialized chemical environments (primarily acetic and hydrochloric acids), Zirconium and its alloys provide extreme corrosion resistance. Because it performs well in superheated water and it’s transparent to thermal neutrons, zirconium has been used since the 1950s as cladding for nuclear fuels. Although it’s still used in water-cooled nuclear reactors, the list of beneficial applications for zirconium and its alloys continues to grow. The material is also used in the chemical processing industry for flashbulbs and incendiary ordnance, as well as gettering material in sealed vacuum devices. It’s also useful for construction materials.
United Titanium carries two common grades – 702 and 705. As a commercially pure grade, zirconium 702 offers excellent corrosion protection with resistance to stress-corrosion cracking and crevice corrosion. It’s often used for chemical processing. Alloyed with 2 to 3 percent Columbium, zirconium 705 is significantly stronger and more ductile than zirconium 702 with almost equal corrosion resistance, making it the alloy of choice for most zirconium fasteners.
Resistant to corrosion in most organic and mineral acids, alkalis, and some molten salts, zirconium gets its protection from a critical oxide layer produced on the surface by heat treatment. Other than the natural regeneration of oxide that occurs when oxygen is present, zirconium oxide can be formed or enhanced by anodizing or by heating in air, water, or steam. To provide the most enhanced oxide layer on machined parts, especially on threaded fasteners, it’s crucial that these parts are heat treated to specific parameters.
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