The welding of zirconium
16 April 2019
In the whitepaper, ‘The welding of zirconium and its alloys: A whitepaper’, Dr. Michael J. Fletcher, M.SC. Metallurgy at Loughborough University, and Senior Consultant with Huntingdon Fusion Techniques (HFT), talks about how zirconium’s principal alloy, zircalloy, possesses physical properties unmatched by most other metallic materials. The combination of mechanical strength, corrosion resistance, and their high temperature stability make them attractive for use in sectors as diverse as biochemical, nuclear, aerospace, and petrochemicals.
“More specifically, zircalloy is used in the manufacture of pressure vessels and heat exchangers. The alloy has excellent resistance to most organic and inorganic acids, salt solutions, strong alkalis, and some molten salts,” Fletcher explains. “These properties make it suitable for use in pumps where strength, coupled with corrosion resistance is mandatory. Zirconium alloys are biocompatible, and therefore can be used for body implants: a Zr-2.5Nb alloy is used in knee and hip implants. By far, the most significant applications, however, are in nuclear power plants.”
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