The surface of beryllium metal is covered with a thin layer of oxide that helps protect the metal from attack by air. It does not oxidize in air even at 600°C. Powdered beryllium metal does burn in air to give a mixture of white beryllium oxide, BeO, and beryllium nitride, Be3N2.
Beryllium metal reacts chlorine, Cl2
, or bromine, Br2
, to form the beryllium dihalides; beryllium(II) chloride, BeCl2
, and beryllium(II) bromide, BeBr2
Be(s) + Cl2(g) –> BeCl2(s)
Be(s) + Br2(g) –> BeBr2(s)
Reactions with acids
The surface of beryllium
metal is covered with a thin layer of oxide that helps protect the metal from attack by acids, but powdered beryllium metal dissolves readily in dilute acids such as sulphuric acid, hydrochloric acid, or nitric acid to form solutions containing the aquated Be(II) ion together with hydrogen gas, H2
Be(s) + H2SO4(aq) –> Be2+(aq) + SO42-(aq) + H2(g)
Reactions with bases
Beryllium metal dissolves readily in dilute aquesous base solutions such as sodium hydroxide, NaOH, to form Be(II) complexes together with hydrogen gas, H2
Occurrence and Production of Beryllium
is an essential constituent of about 100 out of about 4000 known minerals, the most important of which are bertrandite (Be4
), beryl (Al2
), chrysoberyl (Al2
), and phenakite (Be2
). Precious forms of beryl are aquamarine and emerald.
The most important commercial sources of beryllium and its compounds are beryl and bertrandite. Beryllium metal did not become readily available until 1957. Currently, most production of this metal is accomplished by reducing beryllium fluoride with magnesium metal. The price on the US market for vacuum-cast beryllium ingots was 338 US$ per pound ($745/kg) in 2001.
+ Mg –> MgF2
Isotopes of Beryllium
7Be [3 neutrons]
Half life: 53.12 days [ Electron Capture ]
Decay Energy: ? MeV
Decays to 7Li.
Half life: 53.12 days [ Gamma Radiation ]
Decay Energy: 0.477 MeV
Decays to ?.
9Be [5 neutrons]
Stable with 5 neutron
10Be [6 neutrons]
Half life: 1.51 x 106 years [ beta- ]
Decay Energy: 0.556 MeV
Decays to 10B.
Cosmogenic 10Be is produced in the atmosphere by cosmic ray spallation of oxygen and nitrogen.
10Be and its daughter products have been used to examine soil erosion, soil formation from regolith, the development of lateritic soils, as well as variations in solar activity and the age of ice cores. It is also formed in nuclear explosions by a reaction of fast neutrons with 13C in the carbon dioxide (CO2) in air, and is one of the historical indicators of past activity at nuclear test sites.