Beryllium (Be) - Properties, Applications

Topics Covered

Introduction
Chemical Properties
Physical Properties
Mechanical Properties
Thermal Properties
Applications

Introduction

Beryllium is a chemical element with atomic number 4, represented by the chemical symbol ‘Be’. It is a toxic, bivalent element having a steel gray appearance. It is a lightweight metal having very high melting point and good thermal conductivity. It is non-magnetic by nature and exhibits good resistance to corrosion due to exposure to air and contact with nitric acid. Beryllium belongs to the alkaline earth metal category, s-block and period 2 of the periodic table.

Beryllium content on earth’s crust is 2.6 ppm. It is one of the most toxic elements, hence causes damage to human lungs and other organisms. It is found in as many as 30 different minerals.

Chemical Properties

The chemical properties of beryllium are provided in the table below:

Chemical Data
CAS number 7440-41-7
Thermal neutron cross section 0.0090 barns/atom
Electrode potential -1.70 V
Ionic radius 0.350 Å
Electro negativity 1.57
X-ray absorption edge 110.68 Å
Electrochemical equivalent 0.168 g/A/h

Physical Properties

The following table discusses the physical properties of beryllium.

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

Mechanical Properties

The mechanical properties of beryllium are tabulated below.

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%

Thermal Properties

The thermal properties of beryllium are tabulated below.

Properties Metric Imperial
Thermal expansion co-efficient (@25°C/77°F) 11.5 µm/m°C 6.39µin/in°F
Thermal conductivity 216 W/mK 1500 BTU in/hr.ft².°F

Applications

The following are the application areas of beryllium:

  • Alloying agent in production of beryllium-copper
  • X-ray detection diagnostics
  • Manufacture of computer peripherals
  • Nuclear reactors as neutron moderators and reflectors
  • Satellite structures
  • IR target acquisition
  • Heat sink constraining cores

Beryllium alloys are used in defense and aerospace industries.

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