Beryllium is a rare element that, in nature, is only found combined with other metals. But who discovered beryllium? This post will answer that question and then tell you a few interesting facts about beryllium.
Who Discovered Beryllium?
Beryllium has many chemical similarities to aluminum. This is why it was not discovered until the late 18th century. Beryllium was discovered by French pharmacist Louis Nicolas Vanquelin in 1798. He determined that this new metal was a component of beryl and emeralds. However, it wasn’t until 1828 that beryllium metal was isolated by reacting beryllium chloride with potassium. This was done by Friedrich Wohler and Antoine Bussy.
Interesting Facts About Beryllium
- Commercially, most beryllium is obtained by reacting beryllium fluoride with magnesium metal.
- Only one isotope of beryllium (beryllium-9) is stable.
- For about 160 years, beryllium was sometimes called glucinum or glucinium (with the symbol ‘Gl’). This name came from a Greek word meaning ‘sweet’. Beryllium salts have a sweet taste!
- It is not known whether beryllium has any use for plant or animal life.
- Beryllium has a very low density (1.85 times that of water) and a very high melting point (1560 degrees K, 2349 degrees F or 1287 degrees C)
- Beryllium was used in fluorescent lighting until 1949 when it was discovered to be toxic to humans when inhaled.