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Facts about Beryllium: Applications & Uses

Beryllium is a steel-gray metal that is quite brittle at room temperature, and its chemical properties somewhat resemble those of aluminum. It does not occur free in nature. Beryllium is found in beryl and emerald, minerals that were known to the ancient Egyptians. Although it had long been suspected that the two minerals were similar, chemical confirmation of this did not occur until the late 18th century. Emerald is now known to be a green variety of beryl. Beryllium was discovered (1798) as the oxide by French chemist Nicolas-Louis Vauquelin in beryl and in emeralds and was isolated (1828) as the metal independently by German chemist Friedrich Wöhler and French chemist Antoine A.B. Bussy by the reduction of its chloride with potassium.

Beryllium is widely distributed in Earth’s crust and is estimated to occur in Earth’s igneous rocks to the extent of 0.0002 percent. Its cosmic abundance is 20 on the scale in which silicon, the standard, is 1,000,000. The United States has about 60 percent of the world’s beryllium and is by far the largest producer of beryllium; other major producing countries include China, Mozambique, and Brazil. Application Areas of Titanium

Properties of Beryllium

Symbol – Be

Atomic Number – 4

Atomic Weight – 9.012

Melting Point – 1287°C, 2349°F, 1560 K 

Boiling Point – 2468°C, 4474°F, 2741 K 

Density – 1.85

Oxidation States – 2

Electron Configuration – [He] 2s2 

Common Uses of Beryllium

Beryllium is used in alloys with copper or nickel to make gyroscopes, springs, electrical contacts, spot-welding electrodes and non-sparking tools. Mixing beryllium with these metals increases their electrical and thermal conductivity.

Other beryllium alloys are used as structural materials for high-speed aircraft, missiles, spacecraft and communication satellites.

Beryllium is relatively transparent to X-rays so ultra-thin beryllium foil is finding use in X-ray lithography. Beryllium is also used in nuclear reactors as a reflector or moderator of neutrons.

The oxide has a very high melting point making it useful in nuclear work as well as having ceramic applications.

Beryllium Physical Properties Tabulation

Properties                      Metric                            Imperial

Density                          1.844 g/cm3                          0.066 lb/in3

Melting point                 1273-1293 °C                 2323-2341 °F

Boiling point                  2970 °C                          5378°F

Beryllium Mechanical Properties Tabulation

Properties                       Metric                            Imperial

Tensile strength              370 MPa                        53700 psi

Modulus of elasticity      303 GPa                         43900 ksi

Shear modulus                135 GPa                         19600 ksi

Hardness, Rockwell B     75-85                             75-85

Elongation at break         3%                                 3%   

Beryllium Thermal Properties Tabulation

Properties                                                             Metric                    Imperial

Thermal expansion co-efficient (@25ºC/77ºF)  11.5 µm/mºC           6.39µin/inºF

Thermal conductivity                                            216 W/mK            1500 BTU in/hr.ft².°F

If you’re interested in discussing how Beryllium can be used for your application, please feel free to contact our technical team directly.