Zirconium, 40Zr
Zirconium crystal bar and 1cm3 cube.jpg
Pronunciationm/ (KOH-nee-əm)
Appearancesilvery white
Standard atomic weight Ar, std(Zr)91.224(2)[1]
Zirconium in the periodic table
CaesiumBariumLanthanumCeriumPraseodymiumNeodymiumPromethiumSamariumEuropiumGadoliniumTerbiumDysprosiumHolmiumErbiumThuliumYtterbiumLutetiumHafniumTantalumTungstenRheniumOsmiumIridiumPlatinumGoldMercury (element)ThalliumLeadBismuthPoloniumAstatineRadon


Atomic number (Z)40
Groupgroup 4
Periodperiod 5
Element category  Transition metal
Electron configuration[Kr] 4d2 5s2
Electrons per shell2, 8, 18, 10, 2
Physical properties
Phase at STPsolid
Melting point2128 K ​(1855 °C, ​3371 °F)
Boiling point4650 K ​(4377 °C, ​7911 °F)
Density (near r.t.)6.52 g/cm3
when liquid (at m.p.)5.8 g/cm3
Heat of fusion14 kJ/mol
Heat of vaporization591 kJ/mol
Molar heat capacity25.36 J/(mol·K)
Vapor pressure
P (Pa)1101001 k10 k100 k
at T (K)263928913197357540534678
Atomic properties
Oxidation states−2, +1,[2] +2, +3, +4 (an amphoteric oxide)
ElectronegativityPauling scale: 1.33
Ionization energies
  • 1st: 640.1 kJ/mol
  • 2nd: 1270 kJ/mol
  • 3rd: 2218 kJ/mol
Atomic radiusempirical: 160 pm
Covalent radius175±7 pm
Color lines in a spectral range
Spectral lines of zirconium
Other properties
Natural occurrenceprimordial
Crystal structurehexagonal close-packed (hcp)
Hexagonal close-packed crystal structure for zirconium
Speed of sound thin rod3800 m/s (at 20 °C)
Thermal expansion5.7 µm/(m·K) (at 25 °C)
Thermal conductivity22.6 W/(m·K)
Electrical resistivity421 nΩ·m (at 20 °C)
Magnetic orderingparamagnetic[3]
Young's modulus88 GPa
Shear modulus33 GPa
Bulk modulus91.1 GPa
Poisson ratio0.34
Mohs hardness5.0
Vickers hardness820–1800 MPa
Brinell hardness638–1880 MPa
CAS Number7440-67-7
Namingafter zircon, zargun زرگون meaning "gold-colored".
DiscoveryMartin Heinrich Klaproth (1789)
First isolationJöns Jakob Berzelius (1824)
Main isotopes of zirconium
Iso­topeAbun­danceHalf-life (t1/2)Decay modePro­duct
88Zrsyn83.4 dε88Y
89Zrsyn78.4 hε89Y
93Zrtrace1.53×106 yβ93Nb
96Zr2.80%2.0×1019 y[4]ββ96Mo
| references

Zirconium is a chemical element with the symbol Zr and atomic number 40. The name zirconium is taken from the name of the mineral zircon (the word is related to Persian zargun (zircon;zar-gun, "gold-like" or "as gold")), the most important source of zirconium.[5] It is a lustrous, grey-white, strong transition metal that closely resembles hafnium and, to a lesser extent, titanium. Zirconium is mainly used as a refractory and opacifier, although small amounts are used as an alloying agent for its strong resistance to corrosion. Zirconium forms a variety of inorganic and organometallic compounds such as zirconium dioxide and zirconocene dichloride, respectively. Five isotopes occur naturally, three of which are stable. Zirconium compounds have no known biological role.


Zirconium rod

Zirconium is a lustrous, greyish-white, soft, ductile, malleable metal that is solid at room temperature, though it is hard and brittle at lesser purities.[6][7] In powder form, zirconium is highly flammable, but the solid form is much less prone to ignition. Zirconium is highly resistant to corrosion by alkalis, acids, salt water and other agents.[8] However, it will dissolve in hydrochloric and sulfuric acid, especially when fluorine is present.[9] Alloys with zinc are magnetic at less than 35 K.[8]

The melting point of zirconium is 1855 °C (3371 °F), and the boiling point is 4371 °C (7900 °F).[8] Zirconium has an electronegativity of 1.33 on the Pauling scale. Of the elements within the d-block with known electronegativities, zirconium has the fifth lowest electronegativity after hafnium, yttrium, lanthanum, and actinium.[10]

At room temperature zirconium exhibits a hexagonally close-packed crystal structure, α-Zr, which changes to β-Zr, a body-centered cubic crystal structure, at 863 °C. Zirconium exists in the β-phase until the melting point.[11]


Naturally occurring zirconium is composed of five isotopes. 90Zr, 91Zr, 92Zr and 94Zr are stable, although 94Zr is predicted to undergo double beta decay (not observed experimentally) with a half-life of more than 1.10×1017 years. 96Zr has a half-life of 2.4×1019 years, and is the longest-lived radioisotope of zirconium. Of these natural isotopes, 90Zr is the most common, making up 51.45% of all zirconium. 96Zr is the least common, comprising only 2.80% of zirconium.[12]

Twenty-eight artificial isotopes of zirconium have been synthesized, ranging in atomic mass from 78 to 110. 93Zr is the longest-lived artificial isotope, with a half-life of 1.53×106 years. 110Zr, the heaviest isotope of zirconium, is the most radioactive, with an estimated half-life of 30 milliseconds. Radioactive isotopes at or above mass number 93 decay by electron emission, whereas those at or below 89 decay by positron emission. The only exception is 88Zr, which decays by electron capture.[12]

Five isotopes of zirconium also exist as metastable isomers: 83mZr, 85mZr, 89mZr, 90m1Zr, 90m2Zr and 91mZr. Of these, 90m2Zr has the shortest half-life at 131 nanoseconds. 89mZr is the longest lived with a half-life of 4.161 minutes.[12]


World production trend of zirconium mineral concentrates

Zirconium has a concentration of about 130 mg/kg within the Earth's crust and about 0.026 μg/L in sea water.[13] It is not found in nature as a native metal, reflecting its intrinsic instability with respect to water. The principal commercial source of zirconium is zircon (ZrSiO4), a silicate mineral,[6] which is found primarily in Australia, Brazil, India, Russia, South Africa and the United States, as well as in smaller deposits around the world.[7] As of 2013, two-thirds of zircon mining occurs in Australia and South Africa.[14] Zircon resources exceed 60 million tonnes worldwide[15] and annual worldwide zirconium production is approximately 900,000 tonnes.[13] Zirconium also occurs in more than 140 other minerals, including the commercially useful ores baddeleyite and kosnarite.[16]

Zirconium is relatively abundant in S-type stars, and it has been detected in the sun and in meteorites. Lunar rock samples brought back from several Apollo missions to the moon have a high zirconium oxide content relative to terrestrial rocks.[8]