Background Information

Beryllium was discovered by Louis Vauquelin in 1797 and was first isolated in 1928 by two scientists named Friedrich Wohler and Antoine Bussy. Beryllium is a very rare element and only exists naturally when in combination with other elements. As a free element, beryllium is a solid, steel-grey in colour and is strong but lightweight.

How is it used in everyday life?

Beryllium is most commonly used in the military, defence and aerospace industries. Due to its low atomic number, it is highly transparent to energetic particles – so it can be used as a radiation window which allows x-rays to pass through. Beryllium has also been used for military airplane brakes and surgical equipment and instruments. It is also known that the Formula One team used beryllium-aluminium-alloy pistols for its Mercedes-Benz engines. However, the use of beryllium for these purposes has recently ended and been replaced by other materials.  Many naturally occurring minerals including emeralds contain beryllium.

Formula one car