Zirconium silicate (naturally occuring beach sand) has a melting point of 2500°C, a Mohs hardness of 7.5 and a high thermal expansion coefficient. These properties are used in many industries, the largest still being the production of ceramic tiles, followed by the refractory industry and the foundry industry. A rapidly growing sector for the use of zircon is the production of zirconium based chemicals which are used in the nuclear industry.
Zircon product uses
Zircon is used as opacifier in glazes and frits to enhance resistance of the finished product against water, chemicals and abrasion and as whitener in porcelain tiles.
The refractory industry uses zircon for its high thermal stability and non-wetability against molten metals. Products include bricks used to line steel making furnaces, casting channels for refined steel continuous castings, etc.
Zircon's low thermal expansion rate, its high thermal conductivity and its non-wetability by molten metal make it an ideal mould and chill sand. Zircon is also used in core and mould washes to improve surface finish.