Colloidal Zirconium

The name is derived from the Arabic, 'zargun', meaning gold coloured. It's a hard, silvery metal that is very resistant to corrosion.


Zirconium does not absorb neutrons, making it an ideal material for use in nuclear power stations. More than 90% of zirconium is used in this way. Nuclear reactors can have more than 100,000 metres of zirconium alloy tubing. With niobium, zirconium is superconductive at low temperatures and is used to make superconducting magnets.

Zirconium metal is protected by a thin oxide layer making it exceptionally resistant to corrosion by acids, alkalis and seawater. For this reason it is extensively used by the chemical industry.

Zirconium(IV) oxide is used in ultra-strong ceramics. It is used to make crucibles that will withstand heat-shock, furnace linings, foundry bricks, abrasives and by the glass and ceramics industries. It is so strong that even scissors and knives can be made from it. It is also used in cosmetics, antiperspirants, food packaging and to make microwave filters.

Zircon is a natural semi-precious gemstone found in a variety of colours. The most desirable have a golden hue. The element was first discovered in this form, resulting in its name. Cubic zirconia (zirconium oxide) is a synthetic gemstone. The colourless stones, when cut, resemble diamonds. The Ancient Egyptians used zircon gemstones in jewellery.

Zircon mixed with vanadium or praseodymium makes blue and yellow pigments for glazing pottery.


Biomedical applications

Zirconium-containing compounds are used in many biomedical applications including dental implants and other restorative practices, knee and hip replacements, and middle-ear ossicular chain reconstruction.

Zirconium binds urea, a property that has been utilized extensively to the benefit of patients with chronic kidney disease. For example, zirconium is a primary component of the sorbent column dependent dialysate regeneration and recirculation system known as the REDY system, which was first introduced in 1973. More than 2,000,000 dialysis treatments have been performed using the sorbent column in the REDY system. Although the REDY system fell out of favor in the 1990s because of less expensive alternatives, new sorbent-based dialysis systems are being evaluated and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Renal Solutions, which was acquired by Fresenius in 2008, developed the DIALISORB technology, which is a portable, low water dialysis system. Also, developmental versions of a Wearable Artificial Kidney have incorporated sorbent-based technologies (e.g., Xcorporeal, which was acquired by Fresenius in 2010).

A zirconium compound (ZS-9) is under investigation for oral therapy in the treatment of hyperkalemia (elevated serum potassium levels). ZS-9 is a highly selective oral sorbent designed specifically to trap potassium ions over other ions throughout the gastrointestinal tract.In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase 3 clinical trial, patients with hyperkalemia received one of four doses of ZS-9 or placebo three times daily for 2 days, and patients whose potassium was normalized received ZS-9 or placebo once daily for 12 additional days.Results showed that ZS-9 given three times daily resulted in significantly greater reductions in potassium than placebo, and once daily ZS-9 was able to maintain significant reductions in serum potassium compared with placebo. ZS-9 was well-tolerated at all doses, with comparable overall adverse event and gastrointestinal adverse event rates between the placebo and ZS-9 treated patients.

Zirconium carbonate (3ZrO2·CO2·H2O) was used in lotions to treat poison ivy but was discontinued because it occasionally caused skin reactions.

The human body contains, on average, 250 milligrams of zirconium, and daily intake is approximately 4.15 milligrams (3.5 milligrams from food and 0.65 milligrams from water), depending on dietary habits. Zirconium is widely distributed in nature and is found in all biological systems, for example: 2.86 μg/g in whole wheat, 3.09 μg/g in brown rice, 0.55 μg/g in spinach, 1.23 μg/g in eggs, and 0.86 μg/g in ground beef. Further, zirconium is commonly used in commercial products (e.g. deodorant sticks, aerosol antiperspirants) and also in water purification (e.g. control of phosphorus pollution, bacteria- and pyrogen-contaminated water)

Colloidal Zirconium

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