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Beryllium oxide

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Beryllium oxide
Beryllium Oxide Stem Model.pngBeryllium Oxide Ball Model.png
Systematic name oxoberyllium[1]
Other names

glucinium oxide[2]

Molecular formula BeO[1]
Molar mass Molar mass::25.011 g/mol[1]
Appearance odorless white solid[1]
CAS number CAS number::1304-56-9[1]
Density and phase Density::3.01 g/ml, 3.0 g/cm solid[1]
Solubility in water 2 ug/100 ml (30°C)
Melting point Melting point::2578°C[1]
Boiling point Boiling point::3787°C[1]
Molecular shape tetrahedral[3]
Crystal structure Hexagonal[4]
Dipole moment 5.89380[5] D
MSDS Material safety data sheet
Main hazard

highly toxic, can burn eyes and skin,
potential occupational carcinogen.[1]

NFPA 704

NFPA 704 svg.png

Flash point Not flammable[7]
R/S statement R: R49 R25 R26 R26 R37 R38 R43 R23
S: S53 S45[8]
RTECS number DS4025000[1]
Related compounds
Other anions Beryllium Telluride [8]
Other cations Magnesium Oxide, Calcium Oxide[8]
Related compounds Be2O
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for
materials in their standard state (at 25 °C, 100 kPa)
Disclaimer and references

Beryllium oxide is a man-made compound and was discovered not too long ago. It has proven to be a beneficial discovery. The compound consists of one beryllium atom and one oxygen atom. Beryllium oxide has many key physical and chemical properties that contribute to its usefulness. The compound has various uses ranging from ceramics to nuclear weaponry. The compound is quite hazardous, as it is a carcinogen, and it should be handled with great care during processing. After it is manufactured the end product proves to be harmless if undamaged.


Beryllium oxide is an inorganic compound. Beryllium oxide is seen as a white powder with no defined shape. Beryllium oxide can also take the form of hexagonal crystals. This compound has quite a low density, even lower than that of aluminum oxide, which helps with its uses chemically. This compound is also odorless and colorless.[1][9] Beryllium oxide has a very high melting point at 2578°C (4672.4°F). It's boiling point is only about a thousand degrees higher than the melting point at 3787°C (6846.6°F). This compound is also insoluble in water, but in some acids and alkali solutions the compound can be a bit soluble. Specifically in concentrated acids the compound is somewhat soluble. Beryllium oxide is made up of Beryllium and oxygen.[1]

Beryllium oxide also has many chemical properties. The compound formed between the beryllium and oxygen can be classified as an ionic compound. The compound is known for how well it can conduct heat. It also has a very high resistance to electricity and thermal shock.[9] Beryllium oxide has an atomic mass of 25.011 g/mol.[1] The compound has a molecular structure referred to as tetrahedral and a hexagonal crystal structure.[3][4]


Beryllium Oxide is made up of one beryllium and one oxygen. The compound is created by heating up beryllium hydroxide or through the oxidation of beryllium metal.[3] It is a man-made compound, but can occur naturally through the oxygen forming a coat around beryllium when the beryllium is exposed to oxygen. The two elements when combined form a very thin film on top of beryllium, but when this is formed, it doesn't allow the two elements to have any further reactions.[10]


Beryllium oxide has many different uses. One of those uses is to absorb unwanted heat because it has high thermal conductivity and it can resist electricity well. Because it can absorb heat so well, beryllium oxide is used as an electrical insulator which can be found in the ceramic insulators of microwaves and in computers in their electronic circuits with high densities. Beryllium oxide is also used in the medical field in portable defibrillators and in gas lasers used for DNA tissue analysis. The compound has also been utilized in the military and aerospace. The military uses the compound for radar purposes and in armor for protection. Aerospace engineers can use it in motors for rockets.[11]

One main use of beryllium oxide is in nuclear production. Nuclear reactors and moderators use beryllium oxide because of its low density and its ability to direct scattered neutrons in the direction they need to go in. By directing the neutrons, it can direct them back to the plutonium which can increase the explosion's force.[12] Scientists have also found beryllium oxide useful in nuclear fission because of its high melting temperature which allows the plasma purity to be higher, and it can permit a higher density operation.[13] The compound is also found in initiators, which, when activated, gives off a blast of neutrons, triggering a fission chain reaction when in a nuclear weapon.[12]

Hazards and Safe Handling

A Man in Protective Gear

Beryllium oxide has many pros to using the compound, but it also has many cons. The compound is categorized as a carcinogen. The compound should never be ingested as it can be highly poisonous to your body.[14] Along with ingestion, inhalation is one of the most dangerous ways beryllium oxide can be consumed. The toxins can enter the lungs resulting in a cough, shortness of breath, sore throat and even lung disease.[15][14] If the compound comes in contact with the skin, it may result in an irritation of the skin presenting itself as a red rash, burns and in extreme cases skin ulcers. [6] Another way beryllium oxide can harm someone is through the eyes. Much like the skin, the eyes can turn red and feel quite painful if the compound touches the eyes.[15] It should also be taken into consideration how long one is around the compound. Prolonged and repeated exposure can present itself in permanent lung damage, loss of weight, loss of appetite and again shortness of breath. A repercussion of exposure can result in heart failure not present until many years later.

However, there are many ways to avoid these hazards. Ventilation can help prevent the hazard of inhaling too many poisonous toxins. To prevent skin irritation always wear gloves and long-sleeves to avoid coming in direct contact with the compound. Wearing eye protection like goggles or a face shield can protect one's eyes from becoming irritated and red. The easiest hazard to avoid is ingestion. Simply avoid eating the compound and smoking during the session of work and make sure to wash hands after handling the compound before eating. If the compound is spilled onto the floor, wear a protective suit before sweeping up the spilled particles. Proper storage is also imperative to keep people safe from the compound. Putting the compound into a well-sealed container and storing it away from any food will keep you safe from any chance of contamination.[15] When disposing of beryllium oxide, send it back to the manufacturers to avoid any unsafe handling or disposing.[16]


Safety Awareness of Beryllium Oxide


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 Beryllium Oxide PubChem Web. Accessed November 3, 2016. Unknown Author.
  2. Hansen, TonyBeryllium Oxide DigitalFire Reference Database Web. Copyright 2003.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Winter, Mark Beryllium: beryllia WebelEments Web. Accessed November 3, 2016.
  4. 4.0 4.1 McKeehan, L. W.The Crystal Structure of Beryllium and of Beryllium Oxide Jstor Web. Published September 15, 1922.
  5. BeO, Beryllium Oxide Schupf Computational Chemistry Lab Web. Accessed November 13, 2016. Unknown Author
  6. 6.0 6.1 Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services Web. Accessed November 3, 2016.
  7. Pohanish, Richard. Haz Mat Data Google Books Web. Accessed November 8, 2016.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Beryllium Oxide Wikipedia Web. Last modified October 31, 2016. Unknown Author.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Research, CeramBeryllium Oxide AZO Materials. Web. Accessed November 9, 2016.
  10. Beryllium Oxide Chemistry Explained Web. Accessed November 3, 2016. Unknown Author.
  11. Beryllium Oxide (BeO) Marketech International Inc. Web. Accessed November 2, 2016. Unknown Author.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Beryllium Web. Accessed November 3, 2016. Unknown Author.
  13. Beryllium Nuclear Properties Materion Web. Accessed November 3, 2016. Unknown Author.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Beryllium Hazard Awareness Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory PPD Environment, Safety and Health Web. Accessed November 3, 2016. Unknown Author.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Beryllium Oxide The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Web. Last Updated July 1, 2014. Unknown Author.
  16. Beryllium Oxide Safety Advanced Materials. Web. Accessed November 3, 2016. Unknown Author.