Beryllium is a toxic metal and is only found naturally, combined with other elements in minerals. Extracting beryllium from these compounds is difficult; however one popular method involves the reduction of beryllium fluoride with magnesium. Once reduced, beryllium has a steel grey appearance.
In its pure state, beryllium is a strong, lightweight material, with a high melting point and high temperature stability. Beryllium also has a relatively low coefficient of thermal expansion and these properties have lead to the use of beryllium in lightweight structural components in the defence and aerospace industries. Beryllium is a highly effective moderator and reflector for neutrons and hence is used as a moderator in nuclear reactions. Beryllium also has a relatively high transparency to X-rays and is therefore used in radiation windows for X-ray tubes. Copper-Beryllium alloys, which typically contain up to 2.5 % beryllium have a large number of desirable properties; high strength, hardness, electrical and thermal conductivity, as well as good corrosion and fatigue resistance. Copper-Beryllium alloys applications include springs, electrical contacts and spot-welding electrodes.
Advent Research Materials Ltd supplies Beryllium foil and Copper-Beryllium foil and wire in various quantities.
Further properties of beryllium have been outlined below:
- Beryllium Melting Point 1287 °C
- Beryllium Density 1848 kgm-3
- Beryllium Young’s Modulus 287 GPa
- Beryllium Poisson’s Ratio 0.032
- Beryllium Electrical Resistivity 3.8 x 10-8 Wm
- Beryllium Thermal Conductivity 190 W m-1 K-1