What is the Element Zirconium Used For? - Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Suzanne Rose

Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.

The element zirconium is used in the production of many everyday objects, energy, and even jewelry! Read this lesson to find out how zirconium is used and how it touches your life every day.

What Is Zirconium?

One of the elements included in the period table of elements is zirconium. Like the other elements, it can't be chemically broken down any further. Scientists combine the elements together to make many useful substances. Because of its many useful properties, zirconium has a wide variety of uses in many different industries.

What Is Zirconium Used For?

Zirconium is a metal. It does not easily corrode, which means that it doesn't break down easily when exposed to oxygen or water. This means that it can be used to make many useful objects because we don't have to worry that it will need to be replaced frequently.

Zirconium pieces
zirc

Because of this, zirconium is used in nuclear reactors, which make atomic energy. About 90% of all the zirconium that is produced each year is used to make nuclear power.

Another interesting use of zirconium is in a treatment for poison ivy! If you've ever had poison ivy, you know that it can really itch. Zirconium is combined with other elements to make zirconium carbonate, which is put into lotions that can help treat poison ivy.

Because zirconium has such a high melting point, it can be used in manufacturing. Zirconium is added to other metals as a lining for furnaces that reach very high temperatures, and to make crucibles, which are containers in which other metals can be melted. In addition, zirconium is used to make bricks, scissors, knives, food packaging, and parts of microwave ovens. Cosmetics and antiperspirants might also have zirconium in them.

It is also used to make superconducting magnets, which are electromagnets that are used to produce electricity. The glass on your television probably includes zirconium, and photographers make use of zirconium every time they use a flashbulb while taking a photograph. Zirconium is also mixed in with steel to make different kinds of medical equipment that are used during surgery.

Cubic Zirconia

Thousands of years ago, Egyptians used zircons in their jewelry. A zircon is a combination of elements that includes zirconium. The zircon was also mentioned in the Bible. It's been called many different names, including jargon, hyacinth, jacinth and ligure.

Cubic zirconia
cubic

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