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Chemical Elements

Beryllium

Friedrich Wohler, alkaline earth metals, natural abundance, soluble compounds, Occurence

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Beryllium, symbol Be, gray, brittle metallic element, with an atomic number of 4. It is in group 2 (or IIa) of the periodic table. Beryllium was named for its chief mineral, beryl, an aluminum beryllium silicate. It was discovered as an oxide, now known as beryllia, in 1797 by French chemist Louis Nicolas Vauquelin. The free element was first isolated in 1828 independently by Friedrich Wohler and Antonine Alexandre Brutus Bussy. Because the soluble compounds are sweet-tasting, the new element was first called glucinium, a reference to the sugar glucose.

Properties and Occurence

Beryllium, one of the alkaline earth metals, ranks about 51st in natural abundance among the elements in Earth's crust. Its atomic weight is 9.012. Beryllium melts at 1287C (2349F), boils at 2471C (4480F), and has a specific gravity of 1.85. Beryllium has a high strength per unit weight. It tarnishes only slightly in air, becoming covered with a thin layer of oxide. The ability of beryllium to scratch glass is usually ascribed to this oxide coating. Beryllium compounds are generally white (or colorless in solution) and show great similarity in chemical properties to the corresponding compounds of aluminum. This similarity makes it difficult to separate beryllium from the aluminum that is almost always present in beryllium ores.



Article key phrases:

Friedrich Wohler, alkaline earth metals, natural abundance, soluble compounds, Occurence, atomic weight, atomic number, periodic table, new element, IIa, unit weight, chemical properties, specific gravity, crust, oxide, symbol, elements, gray, high strength, Properties, glass, reference, solution, air, group

 
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