Market suppliers of Beryllium include the following:
IBC Advanced Alloys
NGK Metals Corporation
Xinjiang Xinxin Mining Industry
Ulba Metallurgical Plant
Milward Alloys, Inc.
ALB Copper Alloys
Bohlasia Steels Sdn Bhd
Fuyun Hengsheng Beryllium Industry
Emei Zhongshan New Material
Hunan Nonferrous Beryllium
Ningxia Orient Tantalum Industry
Xinjiang Nonferrous Metal Industry
Zhuzhou Sinotech Industries
Beryllium (Be) is one of the lightest of all metals and has one of the highest melting points of any light metal. Beryllium metal is used principally in aerospace and defense applications because of its stiffness, light weight, and dimensional stability over a wide temperature range. Beryllium-copper alloys are used in a wide variety of applications because of their electrical and thermal conductivity, high strength and hardness, good corrosion and fatigue resistance, and nonmagnetic properties. Beryllium oxide is an excellent heat conductor, with high strength and hardness, and acts as an electrical insulator in some applications. The United States, one of only three countries that process beryllium ores and concentrates into beryllium products, supplies most of the rest of the world with these products. (USGS)
Beryllium is a chemical element with symbol Be and atomic number 4. It is a relatively rare element in the universe, usually occurring as a product of the spallation of larger atomic nuclei that have collided with cosmic rays. Within the cores of stars beryllium is depleted as it is fused and creates larger elements. It is a divalent element which occurs naturally only in combination with other elements in minerals. Notable gemstones which contain beryllium include beryl(aquamarine, emerald) and chrysoberyl. As a free element it is a steel-gray, strong, lightweight and brittle alkaline earth metal.
Beryllium improves many physical properties when added as an alloying element to aluminium, copper (notably the alloy beryllium copper), iron and nickel. Beryllium does not form oxides until it reaches very high temperatures. Tools made of beryllium copper alloys are strong and hard and do not create sparks when they strike a steel surface. In structural applications, the combination of high flexural rigidity, thermal stability, thermal conductivity and low density (1.85 times that of water) make beryllium metal a desirable aerospace material for aircraft components, missiles, spacecraft, and satellites. Because of its low density and atomic mass, beryllium is relatively transparent to X-rays and other forms of ionizing radiation; therefore, it is the most common window material for X-ray equipment and components of particle detectors. The high thermal conductivities of beryllium and beryllium oxide have led to their use in thermal management applications.
The commercial use of beryllium requires the use of appropriate dust control equipment and industrial controls at all times because of the toxicity of inhaled beryllium-containing dusts that can cause a chronic life-threatening allergic disease in some people called berylliosis.
Domestic Production and Use: One company in Utah mined bertrandite ore and converted it, along with imported beryl, into beryllium hydroxide. Some of the beryllium hydroxide was shipped to the company’s plant in Ohio, where it was converted into metal, oxide, and downstream beryllium-copper master alloy, and some was sold. Based on the estimated unit value for beryllium in imported beryllium-copper master alloy, beryllium apparent consumption of 200 tons was valued at about $125 million. Based on value-added sales revenues, approximately 21% of beryllium products were used in consumer electronics, 19% in industrial components, 14% in automotive electronics, 11% in defense applications, 9% in telecommunications infrastructure, 6% in energy applications, 2% in medical applications, and 18% in other applications. Beryllium alloy strip and bulk products, the most common forms of processed beryllium, were used in all application areas. The majority of unalloyed beryllium metal and beryllium composite products were used in defense and scientific applications.
Recycling: Beryllium was recovered from new scrap generated during the manufacture of beryllium products and from old scrap. Detailed data on the quantities of beryllium recycled are not available but may account for as much as 20% to 25% of total beryllium consumption. The leading U.S. beryllium producer established a comprehensive recycling program for all of its beryllium products, recovering approximately 40% of the beryllium content of the new and old beryllium alloy scrap. Beryllium manufactured from recycled sources requires only 20% of the energy as that of beryllium manufactured from primary sources.
Events, Trends, and Issues: Apparent consumption of beryllium-based products was estimated to have increased by about 10% in 2017 from that of 2016. During the first 6 months of 2017, the leading U.S. beryllium producer reported that net sales of its beryllium alloy strip and bulk products and beryllium metal and composite products were 7% higher than those during the first 6 months of 2016. Sales of beryllium products to the consumer electronics, industrial components, and commercial aerospace markets increased owing to stronger demand, and sales of beryllium hydroxide increased owing to a new supply agreement with an existing customer. Sales of beryllium products to the defense industry decreased during the first quarter of 2017.
Because of the toxic nature of beryllium, various international, national, and State guidelines and regulations have been established regarding beryllium in air, water, and other media. Industry is required to carefully control the quantity of beryllium dust, fumes, and mists in the workplace.