Introduction to what is Beryllium

Beryllium being the lightest member of the family of alkaline earth metal has an atomic number 4 and belongs to group 2, period 2, and s-block in the periodic table. Beryllium is divalent and its compounds are highly toxic and carcinogenic. It is a silvery-white metal with low-density and is relatively soft. Beryllium occurs in more than 30 various mineral species amongst which the most important ones are beryl, bertrandite, and phenacite. Precious form of beryl is emerald and aquamarine. Beryllium mass number is 9.01218g/mol. Beryllium symbol is "Be". Electronic configuration of beryllium 1s22s2. The state of Beryllium is solid at 20°C.

Beryllium Uses

1) Beryllium metal is used as an alloying agent with copper or nickel to form springs, spot-welding electrodes, gyroscopes, and non-sparking tools.

2) Other beryllium alloys fused with copper are used as a structural material in defense, communication satellites, and aerospace industry.

3) Due to its high melting point, it is used in nuclear work and is also considered to have ceramic applications.

4) Beryllium metals are tough, stiff, and possess high strength, and better resistance.

Also, they are dimensionally stable and have non- magnetic properties over a considerable range of temperatures which makes it a good metal in alloys. For example, an alloy of aluminum and beryllium is Beralcast.

5) Beryllium as an ultra-thin foil can be used sometimes in X-ray machines for making its window because it is transparent to x-ray.

6) Beryllium compounds are used in auto-ignition systems, lasers, high-speed computers, and microwave ovens, etc.

Facts on Who Discovered Beryllium

French Louis-Nicolas Vauquelin discovered the element beryllium in 1798. Firstly, beryllium was given the name glucinium which means sweet because all the compounds of beryllium tasted sweet. On the basis of a gemstone, beryllium got its name. 

Physical Properties of Beryllium

1)  Beryllium is a non-magnetic, hard and brittle metal and its surface is greyish-white in color.

2) The atomic weight of Beryllium makes it least dense metal and holds great thermal conductivity that can be useful for construction purposes.

3) Beryllium relative atomic mass is 9.01218 u and

Also, it is considered to have a boiling point of 1,287°C and the melting point is estimated to be 2,500°C. 

4) The density of Beryllium is 1.85 gram per cubic centimeter. 

5) Beryllium may be used sometimes in X-ray machines for making X-Ray windows because its transparent to x-ray.

6) Beryllium atomic structure consists of 4 protons and 5 neutrons.

Chemical Properties of Beryllium

1) Beryllium on reacting with some acids or with water results in the formation of hydrogen gas.

2) Beryllium reacts with oxygen when exposed to air to form BeO (beryllium oxide) but it resists oxidation at a particular standard pressure and temperature.

Beryllium Compounds

Compounds of beryllium have an exclusive oxidation state of +2. These compounds are colorless. They can lead to dermatitis due to toxic fumes which is hypersensitive to berylliosis but is sweet in taste. In the United States, 15% of beryllium is used in its compound form named beryllium oxide. Beryllium oxide can be given various shapes because it is a white powder.  Even being a metal, beryllium compound is considered as an electrical insulator because of its poor conductivity towards the electric current. It should be mentioned that Beryllium is a good conductor of heat.

Extraction of Beryllium

Beryllium ores, being commonly present in earth crust is first converted to beryllium hydroxide or beryllium oxide. These compounds of beryllium are then converted to beryllium halogen compounds i.e beryllium fluoride or beryllium chloride.

Pure Beryllium Metal can be Isolated Due to the Following Methods 

1) With the help of electric current.

2) At high temperature, the reaction of its compounds with magnesium metal.

Fun Facts

  • Beryllium is relatively found in earth crust with an estimation of 2 to 10 parts per million.

  • Beryl is a mineral form converted to beryllium compounds from beryllium aluminum cyclosilicate.

  • Beryllium also has a biological role in causing berylliosis which is incurable inflammation of lungs on inhaling the fumes or dust of beryllium.

  •  The ionization energy of beryllium is 9.323eV and its electronegativity is 1.57.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1.Does Beryllium have Isotopes?

Yes, the element Beryllium has isotopes. Beryllium has a total of ten known isotopes out of which only one isotope is naturally occurring isotopes and is stable mainly known as beryllium-9. It also has six radioactive isotopes. Isotopes of beryllium range from be-5 to be-14. Many of the isotopes of beryllium depend upon the total angular momentum quantum number or its overall energy of the nucleus. All the isotopes have different half-life as well as decay, but the half-life of be-5 is still unknown. Primordial beryllium contains only one isotope named beryllium-9.

2.Why Beryllium Shows Similarities with Aluminum?

Beryllium shows Resemblance with Aluminum Because:-

  • The polarising power of both Be and Al is almost similar and their electronegativity is the same.

  • Both the metal is able to form covalent compounds.

  • Both the metal oxides form a protective film on their surface which leads them to resist the action of acids.

  • Both Be and Al compounds, hydroxides, and oxides are amphoteric in nature and their carbides react with water to form the liberation of methane gas.

  • Salts of both form hydrated ions in aqueous solution.