Day 4: Interesting Facts About Beryllium
Atomic Symbol: Be; Atomic Number: 4; Atomic Mass: 9.01218
- Beryllium is mainly used as an aerospace structural material, as a moderator and reflector in nuclear reactors, and in a copper alloy used for springs, electrical contacts, and non-sparking tools. Common uses include light bulbs, fluorescent tubing, electronic devices, and focus of the lasers for laser-eye surgery.
- It has only two-thirds the density of aluminum, is six times stiffer than steel, and is non-magnetic.
- Beryllium is thus used on space shuttles, space telescopes, and missiles due to its strong, yet lightweight nature.
- Though beryllium tastes sweet, it is toxic. Chronic exposure to beryllium (typically through inhalation) can lead to a life-threatening allergic disease called berylliosis.
Image: This piece of beryllium was originally purchased about 25 years ago from Brush-Wellman, by far the largest and oldest company in the world that deals with the production, refining, and fabrication of beryllium.