zirconium (symbol Zr) Greyish-white, metallic element, one of the transition elements. Zirconium was first discovered (1789) by the German chemist Martin Klaproth, and its chief source is zircon. Lunar rocks collected during the Apollo space missions show a higher content of zirconium than Earth ones, and zirconium exists in meteorites and stars, including the Sun. Chemically similar to titanium, it is used in ceramics, and in alloys for wire and absorption of neutrons in nuclear reactors. Properties: at.no. 40; r.a.m. 91.22; r.d. 6.51; m.p. 1852°C (3366°F); b.p. 4377°C (7911°F); most common isotope Zr90 (51.46%).
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