What is Beryllium?
Beryllium is a very rare metal that is almost never found in its pure form. It is part of the group of alkaline earth metals that make up the second column of the periodic table.
Characteristics and Properties
In its free state, beryllium is a strong but brittle metal. It has a metallic silver gray color.
Beryllium is considered a carcinogen, which means it can cause cancer in humans. It is also poisonous or toxic to humans and should be handled with care and never tasted or inhaled.
Highlights of Beryllium:
|Classification||Alkali earth metal|
|Phase at Room Temperature||Solid|
|Density||1.85 grams per cm cubed|
|Melting Point||1287°C, 2349°F|
|Boiling Point||2469°C, 4476°F|
|Discovered by||Louis-Nicolas Vauquelin in 1798|
Where is Beryllium found on earth?
Beryllium is found most commonly in the minerals beryl and bertrandite. It is found in the earth’s crust and mainly in igneous (volcanic) rocks. Most of the world’s beryllium is mined in the United States and Russia, with Wyoming providing nearly two-thirds of the world’s beryllium production.
Beryllium is also found in gemstones such as emerald and aquamarine.
How is beryllium used today?
How was Beryllium discovered?
In 1798, mineralogist René Hauy asked French chemist Louis Nicolas Vauquelin to conduct an analysis of emeralds and beryl. While analyzing the substances, Louis found a new substance present in both. Initially, he called it a new ‘earth’ and it was quickly named ‘glucinum’ because of its sweet taste (note: never tasted because it was highly toxic).
Where did Beryllium get its name?
In 1828, German chemist Friedrich Wohler isolated the first pure beryllium. He didn’t like the name “glucinum” for the element so he renamed it beryllium which means “from the mineral beryl”.
There are 12 known isotopes of beryllium, but only one (beryllium-9) is stable. Beryllium-10 is created when cosmic rays strike oxygen in the atmosphere.
Interesting Facts about Beryllium
A beryllium atom has four electrons and four protons.
It was originally discovered in an oxygen-containing compound called beryllium oxide.
Alloys with beryllium can produce a hard, strong and light metal used for spacecraft, rockets, satellites and high-speed aircraft.