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Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

On-line version ISSN 2411-9717
Print version ISSN 0038-223X

Abstract

NEL, J.T.; HAVENGA, J.L.; MAKHOFANE, M.M.  and  JANSEN, A.A.. The plasma-assisted manufacture of zirconium metal powder from zirconium tetrachloride. J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. [online]. 2012, vol.112, n.1, pp.63-68. ISSN 2411-9717.

The Kroll process is the traditional method of producing zirconium metal by reduction of zirconium tetrachloride with magnesium metal. This paper discusses the production of zirconium metal in a plasma reactor. Anhydrous low-hafnium ZrCl4 and Mg metal were fed continuously to a 30 kW non-transfer plasma reactor at a rate of 0.31 kg.h-1. Due to losses in the system the recovery of crude product was 77.5 %. After purification to remove unreacted feed material and MgCl2 by leaching, >98 % pure zirconium metal powder was obtained. The overall recovery of purified Zr was 74 %. The conversion efficiency of the process was 95 %.

Keywords : Zircon; zirconium; zirconium tetrachloride; plasma.

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