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Beryllium

Although Beryllium is a hazardous substance, surprisingly its primary use is safe and popular. By adding as little as 1.8% of Be to copper, the resulting alloy converts maleable, ductile copper into a harder, springier material. It is this quality, along with copper’s electrical conductivity, that has made this alloy useful for light switches. Beryllium lends copper its springiness, and so is sometimes called the ‘memory metal’.

Other areas where you may come across this alloy are contact points in mobile phones or even under the keys in the keyboard at which you may be working. The mineral form of Beryllium, Beryl, is the main component of emerald.

Below may be seen an example of a typical CuBe alloy known as C17200.

Cu+Co+Ni+Be Be Co Ni Al Cr Fe Mn P Pb Si Sn Zn
99.5% Min 1.80
%
Min
0.20
%
Min
0.10 % Max 0.10
%
Max
0.01 % Max 0.10 % Max 0.01 % Max 0.01 % Max 0.007 % Max 0.10 % Max 0.03 % Max 0.04 % Max

 

Like many other minor metals, Beryllium has received a boost in consumption from some unlikely areas. One such area is the golf club industry where manufacturers have designed a Beryllium casing for the Titanium head of  drivers.  Some putters and irons also use a CuBe alloy.

Although Be is not a Lipmann core business, the company has in the past sourced pure Be tapered ingots from CIS, Be 99.5%, 25 kgs piece weight which were later used for making new master alloys. We also have experience in handling CuBe scrap which is recycled separately from other forms of copper scrap to avoid contamination.

Beryllium FACTS
This alkali earth metal was discovered in 1797 by Vauquelin in Paris and isolated in 1828 by F. Wohler in Berlin, Germany and independently by A.A.B. Bussy in Paris.

It is found in several minerals with the main one being Beryl. It is obtained by electrolysis of BeCl with NaCl. The metal is grey in colour, with a hexagonally close packed (HCP) structure. It is a hard and brittle material.

It is fairly resistant to nitric acid as it has an oxide layer. It is used in alloys as a light structural material. Beryllium’s primary commercial use us as an alloy with copper, in quantities of up to 2.0 %. This is otherwise known as Copper Beryllium. It is also used in X-Ray screens as Be is transparent to X-Rays.

The metal and its oxide are dangerous to health in mammals and great care must be taken as it is highly toxic and can cause serious respiratory conditions and dermatitis.

It is an interesting fact to note that the majority of the world`s beryllium comes from one mine, known as Delta mine in Utah, USA. It was to avoid a monopoly, that anti-trust legislation decreed that the output would be split – between Brush Wellman of US (now called ‘Materion’) and NGK of Japan – who make 90% of the West`s CuBe downstream products.

Atomic no.
Relative atomic mass
Melting point
Boiling point
Density
Electrical resistivity
Young’s modulus
Heat capacity
Abundance
Thermal conductivity
4
9.01
1287°C
2970°C
1847.7kgm
40 nΩm
287 Gpa
16.4 J/K/mol
2-6 ppm
216 W/m/K