Zirconium

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Zirconium, Zr, 40, is one of my favorite elements, mostly because of the name. Zirconium is a very strong metal, high melting point, very corrosion resistant, and has the unusual virtue of not collecting neutron radiation, which most times will stick to atoms and turn them radioactive, but won't in the case of zirconium.

Zirconium metal is used in nuclear reactors to place uranium-235 fuel into the reactor, because as previously mentioned, it can stand the heat, and doesn't absorb all the neutrons flying around inside the reactor.

The only other use for the metal that I've heard of is in vintage flash bulbs, because fine zirconium fibers will burn very quickly and brightly, especially in oxygen-enriched atmospheres.

Zirconium oxide can form crystals known as cubic zirconia, which are good imitations of diamonds, so are often used in slightly-cheaper-than-diamonds jewelry.

These are my samples!

More Flashbulbs

This is, as of sometime in 2011, my entire collection of flashbulbs and flashbulb related items, including the external flash reflector you mount the bulbs in, and the 22.5 volt battery required to set them off, which is impossibly difficult to find these days.

Date added(year-month-day):20111130, sample number:85

Tags(Elements in sample):zirconium, vacuum

Zirconium Flash Bulbs

These old flash-bulbs where one-use, and basically caused a small bright explosion in a glass bulb for a "flash" for photography. This explosion was done by taking a reactive metal, sometimes magnesium but more often zirconium, and using thin strands of it which burn faster then thick chunks. It also helps if you fill the glass bulb with pure oxygen, which will speed up the burn. Occasionally these shattered when used, or got so hot you couldn't remove them for a few minutes.

Date added(year-month-day):20110726, sample number:27

Tags(Elements in sample):zirconium, vacuum

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