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Zirconium is an economically attractive material for use in sulfuric acid at combinations of temperature and concentration beyond the capacity of stainless steels and silicon-iron alloys or where very low corrosion rates are desirable. This paper defines the range of application and illustrates through case histories the problems encountered in successfully using zirconium in this medium.
The corrosion of zirconium in sulfuric acid is characterized by very low corrosion rates over a wide range of temperatures and concentrations, but it is bound at the upper end of the range by an abrupt increase in rate over an increase in concentration of only a few percentage points. This paper treats the steps in successful application from a thorough knowledge of the plant solution, through the rigors of proper testing in both laboratory and service, to the construction of process equipment.
Laboratory test data that use a variety of alloys as well as unalloyed zirconium in a range of test conditions define the basic area of application. The mechanisms of the corrosion process and the precautions needed to ensure valid test results are discussed.
zirconium, zirconium alloys, sulfuric acid, corrosion, weld corrosion, corrosion testing, industrial applications
Chief metallurgist, Sandvik Special Metals Corp., Kennewick, Wash.