Beryllium Crystal

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beryllium crystal is a steel-gray, soft but strong and brittle alkaline earth metal with low density. It is used extensively in aerospace applications, such as jets and missiles, where it improves strength and aerodynamic performance without reducing overall weight. It is also used in gyroscopes, accelerometers, and computer parts of inertial guidance systems that require accurate operation under high-speed conditions. It is also a component of the high-speed rotors of rocket engines, where its lightness and rigidity enhance stability. The United States Department of Defense classifies beryllium as a critical and strategic material.

Pure beryllium metal has the highest melting point of any of the light metals. It is recovered from fritted and crushed bertrandite ore by treating it with sulfuric acid to produce a water-soluble sulfate solution, followed by extraction steps that remove impurities. The resulting beryllium concentrate is then treated with ammonium carbonate to produce beryllium hydroxide. The hydrate is reduced with magnesium to form beryllium fluoride, which can then be recrystallized to obtain pure beryllium. Beryllium reacts readily with many acids and bases to form a variety of beryllium salts, the most common being chloride, bromide, nitrate, sulfate, and phosphate. The metal itself is insoluble in water and air, but forms a hard oxide layer BeO on its surface that prevents further corrosion.

Exposure to beryllium and its compounds can cause severe lung problems in humans, including cancer, berylliosis, and shortened lifespan and impaired growth rate in plants and animals. It also has high acute toxicity to aquatic life.