Volume 7, Issue 8 (September 2010)
Explosion Cladding: An Enabling Technology for Zirconium in the Chemical Process Industry
Zirconium is a commonly used material for containment of corrosive media by the chemical process industry (CPI). Zirconium’s corrosion resistance is exceptional in a broad range of aggressively corrosive environments. However, zirconium is significantly more expensive than most of the alternative, but often inferior, corrosion resistant alloys. Explosion cladding has enabled CPI companies to cost effectively benefit from the superior performance features of zirconium in heavy-wall pressure vessels and heat exchangers. Explosion cladding is a unique technology that uses the energy of an explosive detonation to produce a metallurgical bond between metal plates. Since its discovery and industrialization in the 1960s, explosion cladding has proven to be a highly reliable, robust manufacturing technology. Zirconium clad has become a broadly accepted material of construction for a significant range of chemical process equipment. Zirconium clad equipment is used in manufacture of an extensive range of chemical products or intermediates including nitric acid, acetic acid, urea, and various organic acids. Zirconium clad and related design, manufacture, and fabrication processes have been shown to be highly reliable and to reduce both capital and operating cost.