Chemical reactions of the elements

Reaction of beryllium with air

Beryllium is a silvery white metal. The surface of beryllium metal is covered with a thin layer of oxide that helps protect the metal from attack by air. It does not oxidize in air even at 600°C. However, powdered beryllium metal does burn in air to give a mixture of white beryllium oxide, BeO, and beryllium nitride, Be3N2. Beryllium oxide is more normally made by heating beryllium carbonate.

2Be(s) + O2(g) → 2BeO(s)

3Be(s) + N2(g) → Be3N2(s)

Reaction of beryllium with water

Beryllium metal does not react with water or steam, even if the metal is heated to red heat.

Reaction of beryllium with the halogens

Beryllium metal reacts chlorine, Cl2, or bromine, Br2, to form the beryllium dihalides beryllium (II) chloride, BeCl2, and beryllium (II) bromide, BeBr2, respectively.

Be(s) + Cl2(g) → BeCl2(s)

Be(s) + Br2(g) → BeBr2(s)

Reaction of beryllium with acids

The surface of beryllium metal is covered with a thin layer of oxide that helps protect the metal from attack by acids, but powdered beryllium metal dissolves readily in dilute acids such as sulphuric acid, H2SO4, hydrochloric acid, HCl, or nitric acid, HNO3, to form solutions containing the aquated Be(II) ion together with hydrogen gas, H2.

Be(s) + H2SO4(aq) → Be2+(aq) + SO42-(aq) + H2(g)

Reaction of beryllium with bases

Beryllium metal dissolves readily in dilute aquesous base solutions such as sodium hydroxide, NaOH, to form Be(II) complexes together with hydrogen gas, H2. Magnesium (immediately below beryllium in the periodic table) does not do this.

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beryllium atomic number