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beryllium flouride is a solid solution of beryllium and fluoride (H2F4) that is used in chemistry. It is particularly useful in protein crystallography because it binds to ATP sites and inhibits the action of ATP molecules, allowing proteins to be crystallised in the bound state.
Beryllium is a block S, group 2 element with atomic weight of 9.012182. It is a relatively rare element in the earth’s crust; it can be found in minerals such as bertrandite, chrysoberyl and phenakite.
Its oxidation state is +2 and it is an isotope of cristobalite; its atomic number is 4 and its electron configuration is [He] 2s2. BeF2 has the same structure as cristobalite, but is more stable at mild temperatures.
Chemical properties: It has a boiling point of about 370 degC, low vapour pressure and has high thermal conductivity. It is soluble in water, but its pH varies greatly. It is an intermediate in the preparation of beryllium metal and is also a common additive to welding and soldering fluxes, as it dissolves metal oxides readily.
Industrial applications: It is used in the manufacture of glass, as an alloying agent in stainless steel and nickel-based alloys and in nuclear reactors. It is also used in oil refining, etching and lithography.
Occupational health hazards: It is toxic to the eye, skin and respiratory tract. Inhalation of dust or fumes can cause chemical pneumonitis, pulmonary oedema, and respiratory failure.
Exposure to beryllium compounds causes chronic granulomatous lung disease in humans. Inhalation of the compound by children is a risk factor for development of this disease.