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Sergey Venezky
STORIES ON METALS

BERYLLIUM

METAL SPACE AGE

Tales become true soon. - Emerald mines of Cleopatra. - Hobby Roman Emperor. - "It is green, clean, cheerful and gentle... " - the Mystery of the Incas. - The investigation is conducted by the expert. - Unique stone returned to Russia. - "The green morning and bloody night". - Gilda looking for beryllium. - What to tell pine? - Sensational message. - Troublemaker. - Serious charge. - "The sentence" revised. - In space! - Strange order. - There will be no explosion. - Union lightest. - Important discovery. - Neutrons slow down the running. - Sound records. - Atomic "needle". - Man-made gems.

"Beryllium is one of the most remarkable elements of great theoretical and practical importance.

...Mastery of the air, daring flights of aircraft and stratospheric balloons impossible without light metals; and we anticipate that in modern metals aviation - aluminum and magnesium - come and beryllium.
And then our planes will fly at speeds of thousands of kilometers per hour.

For beryllium future!

Geochemists, look for new deposits. Chemists will learn how to separate this lightweight metal from its satellite - aluminum. Technologists make the lightest alloys, not drowning in water, hard as steel, elastic, such as rubber, durable as platinum, and eternal as the gem...

Maybe now these words seem a fairy tale. But how many stories in our eyes turned into a true story, joined our simple home use, and we forget that even 20 years ago, our radio and sound film sounded fantastic tale".

So wrote almost half a century ago, the largest Soviet scientist academician A.E. Fersman, already able to appreciate the value of beryllium.

Yes, beryllium is a metal of the future. And at the same time in the Periodic table there are only a few elements, whose history, like the history of beryllium, goes to the far-distant past.

...More than two millennia ago in the waterless desert of Nubia, where the famous emerald mines of Cleopatra, the slaves who mined the beautiful crystals green stone. The caravans of camels brought emeralds to the shores of the red sea, and thence they came to the palaces of the rulers of Europe, the Middle and Far East, the Byzantine emperors, Persian shahs, Chinese Bogdanov, Indian rajas.

Excellent gloss, clarity of color, the beauty of the game is the dark-green, almost dark, gleaming, dazzling green emerald at all times captivated man. "In comparison with him, " wrote the Roman historian Pliny the Elder, is no green thing is not greener...". According to legend, cruel and selfish the Roman Emperor Nero used to watch on bloody Gladiator battles through a large polished crystal emerald. When in Rome was a fire, Nero admired the dancing flames through the same "optical" emerald, in which orange paint flame ominous blended with green stone (Possibly in the ancient legend will have to make a significant amendment: according to press reports, the monocle Nero stored in the Vatican, recently allegedly fell into the hands of a professional mineralogist and it turned out that the crystal is not emerald and chrysolite). "It is green, clean, cheerful and gentle as the spring grass..." - wrote about the emerald A.I. Kuprin.

With the discovery of America in the history of the green stone was to write a new page. In the tombs and temples of Mexico, Peru, Colombia, the Spaniards found a lot of large dark green emeralds. For several years the Spaniards plundered these fabulous wealth. To find the place where they extracted a wonderful gem, they did not succeed. And only in the middle of the XVI century, the conquerors of America was able, finally, to learn the secret of the Incas and to penetrate to the treasures of the emerald mines of Colombia.

As beryllium was discovered in RussiaRare beauty Colombian emerald reigned in jewelry until the nineteenth century. In 1831 the Ural smooker Maxim Kozhevnikov, collecting wood in the forest near a small rivulet Current, found the first Russian emerald. Large bright green emeralds Ural quickly gained recognition jewelers all over the world.

The development of the Ural emerald mines was headed at that time "correcting the position of commander of the Ekaterinburg lapidary factory Yakov Kokovin, crystal honest man, a great connoisseur and artist of the stone. In 1834 he got found on one of the mines huge emerald, weighing more than two kilograms. How could he know what will play a fatal role in the fate of this beautiful stone, known in the history of Mineralogy as "emerald Kokovin"?

The most valuable stones commander faceted himself. And this time he wanted his hands to be cut gem of a giant. But his plans went awry: from St. Petersburg on a false denunciation suddenly descended revision, Kokovin made a search and found the emerald, which he did not intend to hide. Together with the stone of his detention was sent to the capital. The investigation was led by the Earl Cooper, reputed to be a great connoisseur of precious stones. He brought the case to desirable end: innocent Kokovin count put him in prison (where broken unjust slander master soon committed suicide), and emerald, bypassing the state budget, the collection has expanded graph. But the stone is not delayed: coarsely losing at cards, the noble Lord was obliged to part with him, and emerald moved to the privy Council, Prince Kochubey, the owner of Russia's largest collection of gems. After the death of the Prince his son brought a lot of precious stones, among which was "the emerald Kokovin, in Vienna, where he arranged them on sale. At the insistence of the Russian Academy of Sciences the Royal government for a lot of money bought the collection. The largest emerald in the world has returned home and now adorns the exposure of the Mineralogical Museum of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR in Moscow.

Emerald is one of many minerals of beryllium. Bluish-green color of sea water aquamarine and cherry pink Sparrow, wine-yellow Heliodor and yellowish-green beryl, pure phenakite and gentle blue euclase, transparent green chrysoberyl and its amazing variety alexandrite - thick green day and raspberry in artificial light (green morning and bloody night" - vividly described his NS Leskov) - here are just a few, but perhaps the most eminent representatives of the family beryllium gems.

The crust is not poor beryllium, although this element has firmly carved out a reputation as rare. This is due, in particular, the fact that finding beryllium minerals is sometimes difficult. And that's where man can come to his old friend - the dog. Recently, in the literature often there are reports about the search for minerals with a four-legged "geologists". About the ability of dogs to find anything or anyone smell knows many facts and legends. But what are their geological abilities? What minerals can find shaggy professionals? "To answer this question helped us in the collection of the Mineralogical Museum of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, " says doctor of biological Sciences GA Vasiliev has initiated a new direction in the intelligence hidden in the earth's natural treasures. Especially effective was the experience with metal beryllium: smell it, a dog named Gilda then many minerals chose emerald, aquamarine, Sparrow, phenakite, bertrandite, i.e. all and only that which contains beryllium. Put all beryllium-containing minerals among other samples and allowing them to choose the dog, we again asked the dog to search. Then she walked around the Museum, lay the breast on the counter, where there was a large emerald, and barked".

Gilda finds beryllium

The flora is also ready to contribute in the search of beryllium deposits. In this role can perform ordinary pine, have a tendency to take the beryllium from the soil and accumulate it in their bark. If pine growing near the occurrence of beryllium minerals, the concentration of this element in pine bark is hundreds of times higher than in the soil, and ten times higher than in the bark of other trees, such as birch or larch.

As you already know, jewelers respect are many beryllium stones-gemstones, but technologists engaged in the production of metallic beryllium, more selective in their affections: all beryllium minerals they appreciate only beryl, because only this mineral has industrial value. In nature there are crystals giants beryl: the mass reaches tens of tons, a length of several meters. And recently in Madagascar found a single crystal of beryl weighing 380 tons. The length of this "crystal" 18 meters, its diameter of 3.5 meters.

In the Mining Museum in Leningrad there is an interesting exhibit - half meter crystal of beryl. In the winter of the siege, 1942, an enemy shell struck the roof of a building and exploded in the main hall. Shards seriously damaged the crystal, and it seemed that he already doesn't have room in the Museum. But after painstaking jewelry works by artists-restorers of the stone was restored to its original appearance. Now of their operations they resemble only two rusty shell splinter, embedded in a plate of plexiglass, Yes explanatory plaque telling about this exhibit.

Not surprisingly, beryllium gemstones has long attracted the attention of not only fans of jewelry, but also chemists.

In the XVIII century, when science was not yet known element currently in the Periodic table number 4, many scientists have tried to analyze the beryl, but no one was able to find contained in the metal. He seemed to be hiding behind the back of aluminium and its compounds - properties of these elements are remarkably similar. But the differences were. And the first who managed to notice them, was a French chemist Louis Nicolas Vauclin. 26 pluviose VI year of the revolutionary calendar (i.e. on 15 February 1798) at the meeting of the French Academy of Sciences Vauclin made a sensational message stating that the beryl and emerald contains a new "earth", which is different in its properties from alumina, or aluminum oxide.

Salts of the new element had a sweet taste, and because Vauclin suggested calling it glucinium (Greek "glico" - sweet), but many scientists considered this name is unfortunate, because the sweet taste characteristic of salts and other elements, such as yttrium. On the proposal of famous chemists of German Works, and the Swede Ekeberg, also engaged in research beryl opened this mineral is a chemical element was named beryllium, and the name of the Wisteria has long remained only in the French chemical literature.

The similarity of beryllium and aluminum brought a lot of trouble to the Creator of the Periodic system of elements DI Mendeleev. In fact, in the mid-nineteenth century beryllium because of this similarity was considered a trivalent metal with an atomic mass of 13.5 and, therefore, had to take the table between carbon and nitrogen. This was made apparent confusion in the natural change of properties of elements and questioned the correctness of the Periodic law. Mendeleev, convinced he is right, believed that the atomic mass of beryllium correctly identified that the item should not be trivalent and bivalent with magnesia properties. Based on this he put the beryllium in the second group, fixing its atomic mass 9. Soon it had to confirm the Swedish chemists Nilsson and Paterson, which had previously been firmly convinced of tregulatory beryllium. Careful studies have shown that the atomic mass of this element is equal to 9.1. So, thanks to the beryllium - troublemaker in the Periodic table - triumph one of the most important chemical laws.

The fate of this element is largely similar to the fate of his fellow-metals. In free form, he was isolated in 1828, German chemist Velera and independently French chemist Bussy, but only after seven decades, the French Lebo by the electrolysis of molten salts was able to obtain pure metallic beryllium. No wonder that at the beginning of our century chemical handbooks flatly accused the beryllium in the "parasitism": "Practical application is not".

However, the rapid development of science and technology, which marked the twentieth century, forced chemists and other specialists to review this obviously unjust sentence. The study of pure beryllium showed that he has many valuable and interesting properties.

One of the lightest metals, beryllium is characterized at the same time solid strength, greater than that of structural steel, not to mention the "colleagues" beryllium group metals-lightweight. So, if aluminum wire cross-section of 1 square millimeter capable of withstanding only a little more than 10 pounds (e.g., a bucket of water), beryllium wire of the same cross-section can bear load up to six times heavier, i.e. approximately equal to the body mass of an adult. At the same time, beryllium melts at a much higher temperature than magnesium and aluminum. Such a good combination of properties makes beryllium today one of the major aviation materials. Airplane parts made from this metal is much easier than aluminum.

Excellent conductivity, high heat capacity and thermal stability enable the use of beryllium and its compounds in space technology as a thermal insulation material. The beryllium were made, for example, the elements of the thermal protection cabins of the American space ship "mercury".

Beryllium heat

Beryllium parts, preserving high accuracy and dimensional stability, are used in the gyro - devices included in the system of orientation and stabilization of missiles, spacecraft and artificial satellites.

From the point of view of space exploration is very promising another property of beryllium: its combustion releases massive amounts of heat. In this respect, with him unable to compete in any other metal. No coincidence that the designers of space technology review beryllium as a possible component of high-energy rocket fuel to fly to the moon and more distant celestial bodies. Also proposed to produce from it the fuel tank missile systems: when the fuel is used up, instead you can use it (or, simply, to burn) beryllium "packaging."

Widely used in aviation are alloys of copper with beryllium - beryllium bronze. They make many products, which require high strength, good resistance to fatigue and corrosion, preservation of elasticity in a significant range of temperatures, high electrical and thermal conductivity. It is estimated that in modern heavy aircraft over a thousand parts made of these alloys. Thanks to its elastic properties of beryllium bronze is a beautiful spring material. Springs of this bronze almost do not know fatigue: they are able to withstand billions of cycles significant to the load!

By the way, spring is associated curious episode from the history of the second world war. Hitler's industry was cut off from the main sources of beryllium materials. World production of this valuable strategic metal was almost completely in the hands of the USA. And the Germans went to the trick. They decided to use neutral Switzerland for smuggling beryllium bronze: American companies have received from the Swiss "watchmakers" order for that amount, which would be enough for the spring time around the world five hundred years ahead. The trick, however, was solved, and this order has remained unfulfilled. But still from time to time in the newest stamps rapid-fire aircraft machine guns coming into service of the fascist army, appeared in the spring of beryllium bronze.

Fatigue is one of the "diseases" of many metals and alloys, which, not withstanding variable loads are gradually destroyed. Additive in steel even small amounts of beryllium as hand fatigue. If the car springs from ordinary carbon steel broke after 800-850 thousand aftershocks after the introduction I steel "vitamin Be" spring withstood tens of millions of jerks, not detecting and signs of fatigue.

Unlike steel, beryllium bronze not spark when struck against a stone or metal, so it is widely used for the manufacture of instrument used in hazardous work in mines, powder plants, oil depots.

Beryllium significantly affects the properties of magnesium. Thus, the additive is only a few thousandths of a percent beryllium prevents the ignition of magnesium alloys during melting and casting (i.e. approximately at 700°C). Sharply reduced and corrosion of alloys - both on air and in the water.

Great future belongs, apparently, alloys of beryllium and lithium. The Union of these two lightest metals will lead, perhaps, to the emergence of great structural alloys - solid as steel and light as a tree.

According to their chemical data beryllium could successfully play the role of a deoxidizer of steel, helping her to get rid penetrated her oxygen. Unfortunately, it is still too expensive, and to use it in large quantities metallurgy yet. But they found the beryllium another important application, where its consumption is small: the saturation of this metal surfaces of steel products - brillinace - significantly increases their hardness, strength, wear resistance.

Very favorable to the beryllium rechentechnik - because he's better than all other stable in air metals x-ray permeable. Now of him all over the world are doing Windows for x-ray tubes. The bandwidth of such Windows is almost twenty times higher than aluminum, previously used for this purpose.

Beryllium has played a significant role in the development of the doctrine of the structure of the atom and its nucleus. In the early 30-ies of the German physics Bothe and Becker, bombarding beryllium with alpha particles, discovered the so-called beryllium radiation is very weak, but with considerable penetrating power: rays passed through a layer of lead with a thickness of several centimeters. The nature of this radiation was established in 1932, the Englishman Chadwick. It turned out that it is a stream of electrically neutral particles, whose mass is approximately equal to the mass of the proton. New particles were called neutrons.

The absence of an electric charge allows the neutrons easily penetrate into the nuclei of atoms of other elements. This has made the effective neutron projectile atomic artillery. Now neutron guns are widely used for the implementation of nuclear reactions.

The study of the atomic structure of beryllium has shown that it is characterized by small capture cross section for neutrons and a large amount of dispersion. Thanks beryllium scatters the neutrons changes the direction of their movement and slows down to such values, at which the chain reaction proceed more efficiently. Of all solid materials beryllium is considered the best neutron moderator. Well he copes with the role of the neutron reflector, and returns them in an active zone of the reactor, counteracts the leakage. It is also peculiar to high radiation resistance, remaining at very high temperatures. All these remarkable properties make beryllium one of the most essential elements "languid technology.

Of great interest for science is "sumptously" the ability of this metal. In air the speed of sound is 330 meters per second in water is about 1500 meters. In beryllium same sound has beaten all records, overcoming a second 12600 meters (2-3 times more than other metallic materials). This feature has already drawn the attention of the creators of musical instruments.

Many valuable properties and beryllium oxide. High resistance (melting point of more than 2600 °C), significant chemical resistance and a large thermal conductivity is possible to use this material for induction furnace linings, crucibles for melting various metals and alloys. So, for melting of beryllium in a vacuum applied crucibles only from beryllium oxide, which it absolutely does not interact. This oxide serves as the main material for the membranes of the fuel elements (cartridges) of nuclear reactors.

The insulating properties of beryllium oxide may be used to study the deep layers of our planet. There is a project sampling of the Earth's mantle to depths up to 32 kilometers with the help of the so-called "nuclear needle", which is a miniature nuclear reactor, which is enclosed in a heat insulating casing made of beryllium oxide with the tip of the tungsten heavy alloys.

The beryllium oxide has extensive experience in the glass industry. Additive increase its hardness, refractive index and chemical resistance of the glass. Introduction oxide and other compounds beryllium allows you to get a special glass, high transmittance for all rays of the spectrum from ultraviolet to infrared.

The beryllium oxide is used and the raw material for the creation of artificial emeralds and other beryllium gems grown at high pressures and temperatures. This process is carried out today, not only in scientific laboratories, but also in the production environment.

...Fulfilled the prophetic words of the great scientist and visionary A.E. Fersman. Very little time is needed to beryllium to justify to deliver on its promises. From obscure rare item, it has today become one of the most important metals of the twentieth century.

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