Zirconium is an element with valuable properties. Don’t dismiss this element as “cheap” due to the commercial popularity of cubic zirconia (ZrO2). Pure Zr is a metal and one of the most heat and corrosion resistant elements.
Due to these properties, zirconium is used in nuclear reactors as the cladding that separates the fission fuel from the coolant. Zirconium metal usually contains some hafnium (Hf), which is problematic for nuclear reactors, so only the purest zirconium (> 95% Zr & < 0.02% Hf) is considered nuclear grade, such as this piece of nonradioactive fuel cladding. While it is useful for nuclear applications, care must be taken since zirconium can react with water at high temperatures, a property which exacerbated the meltdown at Three Mile Island.
Zirconium is not found in metallic form in nature, but is commonly refined from the mineral zircon (ZrSiO4).
There are about 250mg of zirconium in the average human body.
Zirconium foil was used in disposable photography flashbulbs due to its ability to burn a very bright white.