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Although the history of the reduction of zirconium dates from 1824 and the first ductile zirconium metal was produced in the laboratory in 1914, modern reduction practice was pioneered by the U.S. Bureau of Mines starting in 1945.
This paper reviews the history of the extractive metallurgy of zirconium from the early work of W. J. Kroll and co-workers at the Bureau of Mines in Albany. Ore., through the commercial development of the production of reactor-grade zirconium metal which was spurred by the requirements of the Naval Reactor Program and the development of commercial nuclear power.
Technical subjects covered include processes for opening the ore, zirconium-hafnium separation, chlorination of zirconium oxide, reduction processes, and electro-winning of zirconium metal. Proposed new processes and process modifications are reviewed.
zirconium, hafnium, magnesium reduction, sodium reduction, moltensalt electrolysis, zirconium-hafnium separation, chlorination, carbochlorination, solvent extraction, extractive metallurgy, reactor-grade zirconium, nuclear metals, zirconium oxide, zirconium tetrachloride, zirconium carbonitride, Kroll process
Chief, Boulder City Engineering Laboratory, U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Mines, Boulder City, Nev.