Beryllium

Many of the chemical elements came to life only after long searches and experiments by chemists. One such popular element in modern technology is beryllium. "How so!?" - you will exclaim. Indeed, the main minerals of beryllium - emerald and beryl - have been accompanying man for many millennia in the form of precious stones for various ornaments. Moreover, large emeralds are not much cheaper than famous diamonds. However, the first written references to the oxide of an unknown metal in the composition of beryl were found in the French chemist L.-N. Voklena and they date back to 1798. As it turned out, it was very difficult to single out pure metal - another hundred years passed, until in 1898 a relatively pure metal was finally obtained.

One such popular element in modern technology is beryllium

And then it turned out that beryllium has unique technical properties. It is stronger than steel almost 3 times, aluminum - 9 times, has a high heat resistance, second only to a few metals in this property. And there is nothing to say about the specific rigidity of beryllium. For all materials known to man - wood, concrete, steel, titanium and other metals and alloys - the specific rigidity is in the range of 10-27 units, and beryllium has a value of 167(!) Units, an average of 9 times higher than other materials. Let us add here that beryllium is corrosion-resistant, has high thermal conductivity and heat resistance.

The first technical application of beryllium found in beryllium bronze (1-5% beryllium) in the 20 years of the last century. She went on the manufacture of springs, springs, shock absorbers. In addition, tools made of beryllium bronze were used (and used) in explosive technologies and works, as they do not form sparks during impacts. The main difficulty of introducing such bronzes before was toxicity and low plasticity during processing, high cost.

Today, alloys based on beryllium are confidently introduced into the production of aircraft. This is the elements of the skin, and spars, and brake discs, and the body of instrument compartments, and details of gyroscopic devices. For example, the replacement of beryllium steel in such details as brake discs of large aircraft reduces the mass by more than 500 kg and reduces the heating of disks by more than two times due to the higher thermal conductivity of beryllium compared to steel. Replacement of fasteners from titanium to beryllium at the same strength makes it possible to reduce their weight by half, and replacement of the disk of the gas turbine by 60%.

But not only in aircraft, beryllium finds its application. Take such a detail as the spring of the car. Ordinary springs are made of carbon steel and can withstand up to 800-900 thousand load-discharge cycles. After that, they fail due to mechanical fatigue or require replacement. If the same in this steel alloy up to 10% beryllium, the springs will already withstand up to 15 million cycles, that is, they will work 15 times longer!

Another area of application of beryllium is nuclear technology. It retains the rigidity of the structure, is neutral to nuclear fuel, increases the density of the neutron flux by 10-15% due to the release of neutrons upon irradiation. In addition, the low density of beryllium makes it possible to reduce the weight of the reactor.

Beryllium finds its application not only in metallic alloys, but also in the form of other compounds. For example, oxide and beryllium carbide were the basis for the creation of heat, sound and electrical insulating materials. Paper based on fibers from such compounds is the best soundproof material and thermal insulator for braiding cables operating at high temperatures.

Are there still new applications for such an unusual metal as beryllium? The answer is unequivocal - yes! After all, a person uses only a small potential of beryllium, and the properties of its alloys are not fully understood to this day.

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