Removal of alloying elements from zirconium alloys by hydrogen plasma-arc melting

Kouji Mimura, Sang Woon Lee, Minoru Isshiki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


The removal of alloying elements such as Sn and Fe from zircaloy scrap was investigated using H2Ar (0% up to 50% H2) plasma-arc melting under atmospheric pressure and reduced pressure. While the removal rates of Sn and Fe are very low when the plasma gas is only Ar, they become higher with increasing hydrogen content of the plasma gas and with decreasing pressure during the melting process. Zirconium metal with above 99.9% purity is recovered from zircaloy scrap by hydrogen plasma-arc melting for 3 h at a reduced pressure of 9.3 kPa. Furthermore, hydrogen plasma-arc melting is confirmed to be superior to electron beam melting for the removal of alloying elements from the scrap. To clarify the refining effect and its mechanism, the hydrogen plasma-arc melting of Zr-1mass%Sn and Zr-1mass%Fe binary alloys was examined. The reactions of Sn and Fe removal from the Zr alloy melts obey a first-order rate law and their removal rates are found to increase proportionally to PH2 and PH2 3 4 for Sn and Fe respectively, where PH2 is the partial pressure of hydrogen in the plasma gas. This unique and excellent refining effect is supposed to be caused by activated hydrogen atoms formed in the high temperature plasma-arc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-273
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Alloys and Compounds
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 1995 Apr 15


  • Alloying elements
  • Hydrogen plasma-arc melting
  • Refining
  • Zircaloy scrap
  • Zirconium alloys

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Metals and Alloys
  • Materials Chemistry


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