Fused zirconia (zirconium oxide) is produced through the reduction and fusion of zircon sand (zirconium silicate). Zircon sand is mixed with coke and heated to its fusion point (in excess of 2,800 C) in an electric arc furnace where it dissociates to zirconium oxide and fumed silica. After cooling, the fused zirconia is crushed, ground and sized to customer specifications, typically -10 mm and -0.5 mm. Finer products are produced by jet milling to micron sizes.
Fused zirconias are characterised by good mechanical properties and stability at high temperatures, strong thermal and corrosion resistance, chemical inertness and consistent quality. They are used in a wide range of refractory products, ceramic colours and pigments and electronic applications. Other applications include friction materials, welding rods and zirconium metal and alloys.
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