How many valence electrons does zirconium (Zr) have?

How many valence electrons does zirconium (Zr) have Valence electrons

Zirconium is the 40th element on the periodic table. Zirconium is the element in group 4. Its symbol is “Zr”. Zirconium belongs to the d-block group. The valence electrons for the zirconium element can therefore be determined in a different way.

Zirconium is part of zircon. Zirconium is considered a dispersed chemical element because it does not occur separately in the natural environment. In nature, geologists find it as a silicate or oxide.

Being in nature

The content in the earth’s crust is 0.02% by weight. It does not occur in free form. Forms more than 30 minerals , of which the most important are zircon ZrSiO 4 , baddeleyite ZrO 2 and eudialyte (Na,Ca) 6 ZrOH(Si 3 O 9 ) 2 (OH,Cl) 2 .

The use of zirconium and its compounds

Zirconium has been used in industry since the 1930s. Due to its high cost, its use is limited.


Zirconium has a remarkable ability to burn in atmospheric oxygen (autoignition temperature – 250 ° C) with virtually no smoke, at high speed and developing the highest temperature of all metallic fuels (4650 ° C). Powdered zirconium is used in a mixture with oxidizing agents ( berthollet salt) as a smokeless agent in pyrotechnic signal fires and fuses, replacing mercury fulminate and lead azide .

Nuclear energy

Zirconium has a very small thermal neutron capture cross section . Therefore, metallic zirconium, which does not contain hafnium , and its alloys are used in the nuclear power industry for the manufacture of fuel elements , heat exchangers and other designs of nuclear reactors .


In metallurgy, it is used as a ligature . A good deoxidizer and denitrogenizer, superior in efficiency to Mn , Si , Ti . Alloying steels with zirconium (up to 0.8%) improves their mechanical properties and machinability.


Zirconium is used for the manufacture of a variety of tableware , which has excellent hygienic properties due to its high chemical resistance.

Structural material

In the form of a structural material, it is used for the manufacture of acid-resistant chemical reactors , fittings, and pumps. Zirconium is used as a substitute for noble metals. Iron-free zircon is used in the form of various refractories for lining glass-melting and metallurgical furnaces.


Superconductive alloy 75% Nb and 25% Zr (superconductivity at 4.2K ) withstands loads up to 100,000 A/cm².

The medicine

Zirconium has a high resistance to biological media, even higher than titanium , and excellent biocompatibility , due to which it is used to create bonejoint and dental prostheses, as well as surgical instruments.

Zirconium Isotopes

It is known that in nature, zirconium can be found in the form of five stable isotopes, one of which is radioactive (96Zr): 90Zr, 91Zr,92Zr and 94Zr. Their mass numbers are 90, 91, 92, 94 and 96, respectively. The atomic nucleus of the rubidium isotope 90Zr contains forty protons and fifty neutrons, the other isotopes differ from it only in the number of neutrons.

Atomic and molecular weight of zirconium

The relative molecular weight (Mr) of a substance is the number which indicates how many times the mass of a given molecule is greater than 1/12 that of a carbon atom, and the relative atomic weight (Ar) of an element is how many times the average mass of the atoms of a chemical element is greater than 1/12 that of a carbon atom.

Since zirconium exists in the free state as one-atom molecules of Zr, the values of its atomic and molecular masses coincide. They are equal to 91,224.

Chemical Properties of Zirconium

The most important chemical property of zirconium is its high resistance to corrosion, even when exposed to acids and alkalis. But this ability decreases when exposed to high temperatures. The silver-colored metal can also form alloys with other chemical elements.

Properties of Zirconium Metal

The artificially produced zirconium is a silvery white metal. The appearance of cinnabar is similar to that of steel. The metal has unique properties that no other natural formation has.

Molecule and atom of zirconium

In the free state, zirconium exists in the form of monatomic Zr molecules. Here are some properties that characterize the atom and molecule of zirconium:

Atom ionization energy, eV


Relative electronegativity


Radius of an atom, nm



Zircon is a byproduct of mining and processing ilmenite and rutile titanium ores, as well as tin mining. Between 2003 and 2007, zircon prices rose steadily from $360 to $840 per ton.

The zirconium sand they collect from coastal waters is purified using spiral concentrators to remove lighter materials, which are then safely placed back into the water, as they are all natural components of the zirconium sand on the beach.

Most metallic zirconium is produced by reducing zirconium (IV) chloride with metallic magnesium in the Kroll process .  The chloride is first prepared:

How many valence electrons does zirconium (Zr) have?

for subsequent reduction by magnesium in a helium atmosphere.

How many valence electrons does zirconium (Zr) have?


The resulting metal is sintered until it is ductile enough for metallurgy.

Commercial quality zirconium, even obtained by the van Arquel de Boer method, still contains 1% to 3% hafnium. This contaminant is not important for most applications other than nuclear.

Zirconium and hafnium separation

Commercial zirconium typically contains 1 to 2.5% hafnium . This is not a problem for conventional applications because the chemical properties of hafnium and zirconium are very similar. But the neutron absorption properties are very different, so nuclear reactor applications require separating hafnium from zirconium.

How can you find out the number of valence neutrons in a zirconium-atom?

These are the steps to determine the valence electron. One of these is the electron configuration. Without an electron configuration, it is impossible to determine the valence of electron.

It is easy to find the valence electrons for all elements by knowing the electron configuration. This site has an article that explains the electron configuration. You can find it here. This article focuses on electron configuration.

Scientist Niels Bohr was first to provide an understanding of the orbit of the atom. In 1913, he created a model for the atom. There is a complete explanation of the orbit. The orbit is the path in which electrons of an atom revolve around the nucleus. These paths are known as orbit(shell). These shells can be expressed as n. [n = 1,2 3, 4]. . .]

K is the name for the first orbit (shell), L is second, M third, and N is fourth. Each orbit has a 2n 2 electron-holding capacity.

How many protons and electrons does a zirconium(Zr) atom have

Take, for example:

  1. n = 1 for K orbit.
    K orbit has a 2n 2 electron holding capacity = 2 x 1 2 = 2.
  2. For L orbit, n = 2.
    The electron holding capacity for the L orbit is 2n 2 = 2x 2 2 = 8.
  3. n=3 for M orbit.
    Maximum electron holding capacity in M orbit = 2n 2 = 2×3 2=18 electrons.
  4. n=4 for N orbit.
    Maximum electron holding capacity in N orbit = 2n 2 = 2×4 2 = 32 electrons.

Bohr’s Atomic Model cannot determine the valence electrons for the transition element. The inner shell contains the valence electrons for the transition elements.

These sub-orbitals can be expressed as ‘l’. The Aufbau principle states that electrons in an atom will first complete the lowest-energy orbital, then slowly progress to the higher energy orbital. These orbitals are called s, P, d and f. Their electron holding capacities are s = 2, 6, d = 10, and f = 14.

The Aufbau principle can help you determine the valence electron for the transition element. We will now learn how to determine the zirconium valence electron.

What are the valence electrons in zirconium (Zr)?

ZirconiumZr-atom-electronZirconium is the 2nd element of group 4. The elements of groups 3-12 are known as transition elements. The total number of electrons in a last orbit is called the valence electron. The valence electrons of transition elements are kept in the inner orbit (orbit) however. The electron configuration of transition elements indicates that the last electrons have entered the d-orbital.

The properties of an element are determined by its valence electrons. They also participate in the formation bonds. Zirconium (Zr) is the 40th element on the periodic table. This means that the total number of electrons in the zirconium atom is forty.

The electron configuration of zirconium reveals that the final shell (orbit) has two electrons. The electron configuration of zirconium using the Aufbau method shows that the last electron (4d 2) has entered d-orbital.

The d-orbital and last shell electrons must be used to calculate the valence electron for a transition element. Zirconium can form bonds by sharing its last four electrons.

This means that zirconium is composed of four valence electrons.

Calculating the total number electrons in zirconium (Zr)

First, we must know the number of electrons within the zirconium-atom. You need to know how many protons are in zirconium in order to determine the number electrons. To know the number protons, you must know the Zr atomic number.

A periodic table is required to determine the atomic number. The periodic table contains the atomic numbers of the zirconium elements. The number of protons is called the atomic number. The nucleus also contains electrons that are equal to protons.

This means that we can now say that the number of electrons in zirconium atoms is equal to 40. The atomic number for zirconium is 40, as can be seen from the periodic table. This means that the total number of electrons in a zirconium atom is 40.

Position of zirconium

Do you need to conduct electron configuration of zirconium (Zr)?

Important step 2 This step involves the arrangement of the electrons in zirconium. We know that zirconium has forty electrons. The 1st and 2nd orbitals receive the first two electrons, while the second two enter the 2s orbitals.

The 2p orbital is then reached by the next six electrons. Maximum six electrons can be contained in the p-orbital. Six electrons then enter the 2p orbital. The remaining eight electrons then enter the 3s or 3p orbitals. Two electrons now enter the 4s orbital, as the 3p orbital has been filled.

We know that a 3d-orbital can contain a maximum number of ten electrons. Therefore, the 3d orbital can have a maximum of ten electrons. Six electrons now enter the 4p orbital, as the 3d orbital has been filled. The 5s orbital is now full, and the next two electrons (the 4d 2) enter the 4d-orbital. The zirconium(Zr), electron configuration will therefore be 1s 2 2s 2 2p 6 3s 2 3p 6 4s 2 3d 10 4p 6 5s 2 4d 2.

Valence is the ability of an atom of a chemical element to form a certain number of chemical bonds with other atoms. It takes values from 1 to 8 and cannot be equal to 0. It is determined by the number of electrons of an atom spent to form chemical bonds with another atom. The valence is a real value. Numerical values of valence are indicated with roman numerals (I,II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII).

Calculate the total electrons and determine the valence shell

The third step is to determine the valence. The valence shell (orbit) is the last shell after the electron configuration. A valence electron is the total number of electrons found in a valenceshell. The inner shell contains the transition elements’ valence electrons.

The valence electron is determined by adding the total electrons of d-orbital and the electron in the final shell of an atom to determine the transition element. The electron configuration for zirconium is that the last shell has two (5s 2) electrons, and the d orbital has a total number of two (4d 2). The valence electrons for zirconium are therefore four (4 ).

The terms “oxidation degree” and “valence” may not be the same, but they are numerically almost identical. The conditional charge of an atom’s atom is called the oxidation state. It can be either positive or negative. Valence refers to the ability of an atom form bonds. It cannot have a negative value.

What number of valence electrons does zirconium (Zr 4+), have?

The electron configuration of zirconium reveals that the last shell has two (5s 2) electrons, and the d orbital has a total number of two electrons. The valency of zirconium (Zr) in this instance is 4. This is what we know. The Zirconium Atom donates an electron from the last shell to make bonds. It then becomes a Zirconium Ion (Zr 4+).

Zr – 4e – Zr 4+

Zirconium ions (Zr 4+), have an electron configuration of 1s 2 2s 2 2p 6 3s 2 3p 6 4s 2 3d 10 4p 6. The electron configuration for the zirconium Ion shows that there are four shells to the zirconium, and that the last shell contains eight electrons (4s 2 4p 6).

The electron configuration indicates that the zirconium-ion has adopted the electron configuration from krypton. The valence electrons (Zr 4+) of the zirconium-ion have eight electrons since the shell that contained the last zirconiumion shell has eight electrons.

  1.  The valence is a numerical characteristic of the ability of atoms of a given element to bond with other atoms.
  2. The valence of hydrogen is constant and equal to one.
  3. The valence of oxygen is also constant and equal to two.
  4. The valence of most of the other elements is not constant. It can be determined by the formulas of their binary compounds with hydrogen or oxygen.

What is the valency for zirconium (Zr)?


Valency and valence electrons of zirconium

Valency (or valence) is the ability of an element’s atom to join another atom in the formation of a molecule. The valency is the number of unpaired electrons found in an element’s last orbital.

The electron configuration of zirconium is 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 4s2 3d10 4p6 5s2 4d2 . During compound formation, the zirconium atom donates or share four electrons to another atom and the oxidation state of zirconium(Zr) is +4.

The zirconium element’s valency is therefore 4.



Alexander Stephenson

Candidate of Chemical Sciences, editor-in-chief of Lecturer at several international online schools, member of the jury of chemistry competitions and author of scientific articles.

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