Beryllium Basics: Building On Strength As A Critical & Strategic Metal

December 14, 2012

 

Alloyed in particular with copper, beryllium is used in electronics and electrical components including:

  • Cable and HD TV
  • Electrical contacts and connectors in cellphones and computers
  • Heat sinks
  • Spot-welding electrodes
  • Underwater fiber optic cable systems
  • Very-hi-fi loudspeakers

 

It is also to be found in:

  • Bellows
  • Sockets
  • Thermostats

 

Beryllium is also used extensively in space applications and in medicine for such things as pacemakers, X-ray machines, CAT scanners, MRI machinery and laser scalpels.

Over and above all these uses, the metal is—and looks to remain for some time—vital to the defense industry. In addition to its use in nuclear warheads, because of its low density, it is used in the construction of jet fighters, helicopters, spacecraft and satellites.

Beryllium is also found in missile gyroscope gimbals, sensors in and the actual structure of military satellites and military optics, especially forward-looking infrared systems and surveillance systems. (The fact that it is non-magnetic is an added attraction.)

Because of its strength at high temperatures, in military (and commercial) aircraft, it is also used extensively in landing gear, particularly the brakes. But whereas brakes in military aircraft will be 100 percent beryllium, those in commercial aircraft (not required to operate under such exacting conditions) will use the metal in an alloy form. It also helps (both in this context and when it is used in the oil and gas industry) that the metal is non-sparking.

In addition to telecommunications and consumer electronics, one of the areas of use currently exhibiting growth is its use in the automotive industry. As well as being used in brakes, power steering, ignition switches and air bag sensors, the metal is increasingly being used in engine control and electronic systems.

 

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