The excellent corrosion resistance of zirconium in nitric acid has been known for over 30 years. Recently, there is an increasing interest in using zirconium for nitric acid services. Therefore, an extensive research effort has been carried out to achieve a better understanding of the corrosion properties of zirconium in nitric acid. Particular attention is paid to the effect of concentration, temperature, structure, solution impurities, and stress.
Immersion, autoclave, U-bend, and constant strain-rate tests were used in this study. Results of this study indicate that the corrosion resistance of zirconium in nitric acid is little affected by changes in temperature and concentration, and the presence of common impurities such as seawater, sodium chloride, ferric chloride, iron, and stainless steel. Moreover, the presence of seawater, sodium chloride, ferric chloride, and stainless steel has little effect on the stress corrosion cracking (SCC) susceptibility of zirconium in 70% nitric acid at room temperatures. However, zirconium could be attacked by fluoride-containing nitric acid and the vapors of chloride-containing nitric acid. Also, high sustained tensile stresses should be avoided when zirconium is used to handle 70% nitric acid at elevated temperatures or > 70% nitric acid.
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