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  • Beryllium is a hard, grayish metal that occurs naturally as a component of certain rocks, soil, coal and oil, and volcanic dust. Beryllium minerals have been known since ancient times as the gemstones emerald, aquamarine, and beryl. Compounds of beryllium are either white or colorless and do not have a particular smell. Because it is an element, beryllium does not degrade nor can it be destroyed.
  • Beryllium is a very light, strong metal with a high melting point of 1,280oC, which is resistant to acids and has a high thermal conductivity. These properties make it useful in a number of applications as a metal, as part of an alloy or as a ceramic. However, high processing costs restrict the use of beryllium to applications where there are no practical alternatives, or where performance is critical.


  • At its mining site in Delta, Utah, Brush Wellman treats bertrandite ore using a counter-current extraction process to produce beryllium sulfate, BeSO4. A second route, using the Kjellgren-Sawyer process, treats the beryl ore and provides the same beryllium sulfate intermediate. The intermediates from the two ore extraction processes are combined and fed to another extraction process. This extraction process removes impurities solubilized during the processing of the bertrandite and beryl ores and converts the beryllium sulfate to beryllium hydroxide, Be(OH)2. The beryllium hydroxide is either sold, or sent off-site to either be converted to beryllium fluoride, BeF2, which is then catalytically reduced to form metallic beryllium, converted to Beryllium oxide, or converted to beryllium alloys.


  • Beryllium metal has low ductility, so the beryllium fabrication process implies powder metallurgical techniques. Beryllium ingots are mechanically ground to powder of 56-30m in size. Powder is used for Beryllium compacts and construction materials. Isostatic pressing and vacuum hot pressing or cold press and sinter methods are used to consolidate Beryllium powder into beryllium metal products.
  • Beryllia is produced by thermal decomposition of beryllium hydroxide. Then oxide is sintered, ground and dissolved in acid solution for purification. Then using traditional ceramic technology (dry or semidry pressing, slip casting) specific items are moulded and sintered. Beryllia products may be metallized by overlay of different configuration.
  • Beryllium is particularly well suited for use as a structural material in space technology as it is the lightest structural metal known. Because of its combination of low weight, high stiffness and certain mechanical properties, such as a precise elastic limit, and transparency to x-rays and other high-energy electromagnetic radiation, beryllium is an excellent material for use in optical components and precision instruments.


  • Beryllium has physical and chemical properties, such as its stiffness, high resistance to corrosion from acids, and high thermal conductivity, that make it useful for various applications in its alloy, metallic, and oxide forms. Beryllium-copper alloys average about 70 percent of annual U.S. consumption on a beryllium metal equivalent basis. The alloys, most of which contain approximately 2 percent beryllium, are used in a wide variety of applications but mainly in electrical and electronic components, aerospace, and defense.


  • The United States is the world's largest producer of beryllium-containing ores and concentrates (bertrandite). Most of the beryllium- containing ores and concentrates (beryl) produced outside the United States are from Kazakhstan and Russia.
  • Yearend American Metal Market published prices for selected beryllium products were as follows: 99 percent beryllium metal powder, $492 per pound; beryllium vacu-um-cast ingot, $421 per pound; beryllium-aluminum alloy, $260 per pound; beryllium-copper master alloy, $160 per pound of contained beryllium; beryllium oxide, $100 per pound; and beryllium-copper strip, $8.90 per pound. The Metal Bulletin published price for beryl ore ranged from $75 to $80 per short ton unit of contained BeO.
  • The recycling or reuse of beryllium-bearing old scrap is minimal. The recycling efficiency would have been higher if not for the lack of a concerted program to reuse beryllium from its major end use, beryllium-related electrical and electronic components manufactured from beryllium-copper alloys.

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