Beryllium is an ancient element and is characterized as an alkaline earth metal. It is a very light metal and can withstand high pressure and is widely used for various applications.
History and Discovery
Ancient evidence of the use of beryllium by humans have been reported. Use of beryl have been known since prehistoric Egypt. In first century, beryl has been mentioned by a naturalist in his encyclopedia. It was isolated by Antoine Busy and Friedrich Wohler in 1828. The pure form of beryllium was isolated in 1898 by Paul Lebeau. The term beryllium has been derived from various languages as the element has been known to various civilizations over the period of history. For instance, it has its origin from Ancient Greek word berullos, Latin beryllus and French Bery that means pale colored, after the pale colored precious gemstone beryl . The symbol of beryllium is Be.
|Periodic Table Classification
|State at 20C
|1.85 g.cm-3 at 20°C
|9.01 g.mol -1
|Electronegativity according to Pauling
Beryllium is a rare element in the crust of the earth and is present in around 6 parts per million (ppm) . It is also present in trace amounts in the atmosphere of the earth. It is also present in sea water in dissolved form and around 0.6 parts per trillion of beryllium is present in the sea water. Beryllium is also present in stream water and is present in a higher concentration as compared to sea-water, around 0.1 parts per billion. Beryllium is present in around hundred types of minerals. The most commonly known natural compounds of beryllium include beryl, bertrandite, chrysoberyl. Some minerals of beryllium are of gem quality, for instance green color beryl, red beryl, aquamarine and emerald are the precious forms of beryllium. The largest producers of beryllium are Russia, India, Argentina, Brazil and USA, where large quantities of bertrandite and beryl are found.
Beryllium is a silver-grey metal and is hard and brittle at room temperature. It is a low-density metal and have a density of around 1.85 g/cm3 at room temperature. It has an atomic mass of 9.012 and atomic number of 4. Beryllium belongs to the Group 2 (IIA) of periodic tables which makes it one of the alkaline earth elements. Beryllium has good thermal conductivity. The melting temperature of beryllium is 2349 °C and has a high boiling point of 2469°C.
Beryllium is a reactive metal. It has strong polarization and a high ionization potential. The compounds of beryllium are quite stable, and it mostly forms covalent bonds with its compounds. Beryllium makes alloys with various metals, which are strong and very light. When exposed to higher temperatures, it burns rapidly to form beryllium oxide. It reacts with hydrochloric and sulfuric acid but not with nitric acid. Beryllium also reacts with non-metals and form binary compounds with them, including sulfur, fluorine, iodine and bromine. The oxidation state of beryllium is +2.
Significance and Uses
- Beryllium is widely used to make X-ray tubes and is component of the radiation windows.
- A wide variety of beryllium alloys are used for various purposes, especially beryllium with nickel, copper and iron.
- Beryllium is used to make various materials with high tensile strength, such as rocket nozzles, high-speed aircrafts, satellite and spacecrafts.
- Beryllium is also used to make high precision instruments.
Exposure to high levels of beryllium can lead to irritation of eye and throat which can lead to fever. Continuous high exposure beryllium dust can cause a life-threatening condition known as berylliosis. It is an allergic disease that is triggered by the inhalation of dust of beryllium. So, special precautions should be taken while handling beryllium for laboratory and commercial use.
Isotopes of Beryllium
Beryllium have three naturally occurring isotopes, 7Br, 9Br and 10Br. The most abundant and stable isotope is beryllium-9. The other two exist in only trace amounts and are radioactive .
. Merck contributors (2006). O’Neil, Marydale J.; Heckelman, Patricia E.; Roman, Cherie B., eds. The Merck Index: An Encyclopedia of Chemicals, Drugs, and Biologicals (14th ed.). Whitehouse Station, NJ, USA: Merck Research Laboratories, Merck & Co., Inc. ISBN 978-0-911910-00-1.