Beryllium element-Introduction, discovery and uses

Written by Adeel Abbas

Introduction to Beryllium?

The lightest member of the family of alkaline earth metals has the atomic number of four and is in the periodic table. Its compounds are highly toxic and can cause cancer. The metal is soft and silvery-white.

There are more than 30 mineral species that contain a beryl, bertrandite, and phenacite. The beryl is emerald and aquamarine. There is a mass number for beryllium. The beryllium symbol is “Be” The electronic configuration of beryllium. There is a solid-state of Beryllium.

Discovery of Beryllium

In 1798 Louis-Nicolas Vauquelin discovered the element beryllium. All of the compounds of beryllium tasted sweet so they were given the name glucinium. On the basis of a stone, beryllium was named.

Beryllium Compounds

There is an exclusive oxidation state of +2 for compounds of beryllium. These compounds are not bright in color. Toxic fumes can cause dermatitis due to being sensitive to berylliosis but also being sweet in taste.

In the United States, 17% of the metal is used in its compound form. Because it is a white powder, beryllium oxide can be made into a variety of shapes. It should be mentioned that Beryllium is a good conductor of heat.

Extraction of Beryllium

It is first converted to beryllium oxide or beryllium hydroxide when it is present in the earth. The compounds of beryllium are converted to the compounds of beryllium.

Physical Properties of Beryllium

The surface of beryllium is greyish-white in color, it is a non-magnetic, hard, and brittle metal. The atomic weight of Beryllium makes it less dense than other metals and can be useful for construction purposes.

A boiling point of 1,287 0C and a melting point of 2,5000C are considered to be the boiling point and the melting point, respectively. Sometimes beryllium can be used in X-ray machines for making windows that are transparent to x-ray. The atomic structure of beryllium is composed of 4 protons and 5 neutrons.

Chemical properties and data of Beryllium

Group2Melting point1287°C, 2349°F, 1560 K
Period2Boiling point2468°C, 4474°F, 2741 K
BlocksDensity (g cm−3)1.85
Atomic number4Relative atomic mass9.012
State at 20°CSolidKey isotopes9Be
Electron configuration[He] 2s2CAS number7440-41-7
Chemical data for Beryllium

The formation of hydrogen gas can be caused by the reaction of beryllium with acids or water. When exposed to air, beryllium oxide reacts with oxygen to form BeO but resists oxidation at a particular standard pressure and temperature.

Uses of Beryllium

  1. As an alloying agent, beryllium metal is used to form springs, spot-welding electrodes, and non-sparking tools.
  2. In defense, communication satellites, and the aerospace industry, beryllium, and copper are fused together.
  3. Nuclear work is done with it due to its high melting point. High strength and resistance are attributes of beryllium metals. 
  4. An ultra-thin foil made of aluminum and beryllium can be used in x-ray machines.
  5. In auto-ignition systems, lasers, high-speed computers, and microwave ovens, beryllium compounds are used.

 Fun facts about Beryllium

  1. 2 to 10 parts per million is the average for the amount of beryllium found in the earth.
  2. The mineral form of beryl is converted to compounds in the form of aluminum cyclosilicate.
  3. Berylliosis is an inflammation of the lungs caused by inhaling the fumes or dust of beryllium.
  4. The electronegativity of beryllium is 2.57.
  5. The ionization energy or ionization potential of beryllium is 3.323eV.

How Beryllium is different from other alkaline earth metals?

  1. The other members of the family are a bit soft than Beryllium.
  2. While the rest of the members combine, beryllium only reacts with oxygen at very high temperatures.
  3. BeO is of amphoteric nature.
  4. The high positive charge density on Be2+ ion and polarising power makes the compounds mostly covalent.
  5. The metals react with hydrogen when heating to form metal hydride. Other alkaline earth metals evolved hydrogen, while beryllium didn’t.