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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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