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Definition of ZIRCONIUM
: a steel-gray hard ductile metallic element with a high melting point that occurs widely in combined form (as in zircon), is highly resistant to corrosion, and is used especially in alloys and in refractories and ceramics — see element table
: a steel-gray strong ductile chiefly tetravalent metallic element with a high melting point—symbol Zr; see element table
Metallic chemical element, one of the transition elements, chemical symbol Zr, atomic number 40. The metal is hard and brittle when impure, soft and ductile when highly purified. It is relatively abundant, occurring as zircon (also marketed as a natural gemstone) and baddeleyite. Highly transparent to neutrons, zirconium became important in the 1940s in nuclear energy applications such as fuel cladding. Other uses are in alloys, fireworks, and flashbulbs and as a scavenger for oxygen and other gases. Its compounds, in most of which it has valence 4, are important industrial materials. Zirconia (the oxide) is used in piezoelectric crystals (seepiezoelectricity), high-frequency induction coils, coloured glazes and glasses, and heat-resistant fibres; zirconium carbonate is employed in preparations to treat the rash of poison ivy.