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Posted: Feb 24, 2012

RUSNANO and East-Siberian Metals Invest in High-Tech Materials of Beryllium

(Nanowerk News) RUSNANO and East-Siberian Metals Corporation have begun investing in a project for full-cycle production and processing of beryllium. The parties will establish a vertically integrated company to carry out the work. The project has a total budget of seven billion rubles. Of that sum, RUSNANO will cofinance 3.5 billion rubles.
Beryllium is a strategically important metal, essential for the nuclear and air-and-space industries and used to produce telecommunications equipment. The Russian Federation currently imports all the beryllium it consumes. Project production will satisfy the entire domestic demand, 100 percent of the orders from the government and commercial establishments in Russia-the space program where annual growth is forecast at 7 percent to 8 percent, civil aviation where annual growth is forecast at 6 percent to 7 percent, the auto industry where annual growth is forecast at 2 percent to 3 percent, and telecommunications where annual growth is forecast at 10 percent per year.
Analysts predict that the global market for beryllium will reach 465 tons by 2015, with telecommunications and defense accounting for the largest share of growth. By 2015 the project expects its company to meet 24% of the world's demand for beryllium.
The project will establish its vertically integrated company at the Yermakovsky beryllium field in the Republic of Buryatia, in south-central Siberia. Its principle product will be beryllium hydroxide. The mined material will be processed at the Ulba Metallurgical Plant in Kazakhstan. This is one of the world's largest producers of uranium-, beryllium-, and tantalum-based goods and the sole enterprise in Eurasia that produces all types of beryllium-containing products, from raw ingots to finished goods. Much preparatory work will take place in the project laboratory where beryllium nanomaterials (composite materials and ceramics) will be developed. Specialists from Kurchatov Institute and Tomsk Polytechnic University national research centers, Bochvar All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Inorganic Materials, Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, and company Composite will join company specialists working in the project's laboratory.
The project company will derive most of its earnings from products with the highest added value-metal beryllium and nanomaterials of beryllium. They will make up 59 percent of earnings.
By using advanced nanotechnologies, the project will be able to produce alloys with very special characteristics: greater durability than many types of steel, considerably lighter weight than aluminum, retention of useful properties and ability to work at high (700C to 800C) temperatures. Nanoceramics based on beryllium oxide possess unique physical and chemical characteristics: high resistance to chemicals, heat, and radiation, and heat conductivity.
Technical Information
Beryllium (Be, beryllium) is a chemical element from the second group of the periodic table. The atomic number of beryllium is four; it has an atomic weight of 9.0122 and valence of 2. This silver-white colored, hard though brittle metal is simultaneously light weight (density of 1.845 g/cm), durable, and heat resistant (melting point of 1,285°C). Beryllium retains its properties at temperatures of 700°C-800°C. Beryllium resists corrosion thanks to a film of beryllium oxide that coats it. The metal is easily alloyed with many other metals, raising the hardness, durability, heat stability, and corrosion resistance of the alloy. By various estimates, beryllium has a concentration of 2 parts to 6 parts per million in the Earth's crust.
Uses:
  • In nuclear energy, pure beryllium is a prerequisite for preparing moderators and reflectors for high-power and experimental nuclear reactors and for fuel element containment
  • For rockets, airplanes, and spaceships, beryllium is used to produce milled, hammered, and pressed details and details that have gone through tooling operations
  • Beryllium is a superior material for gyroscopes, acceleration instruments, components for computers, instruments at control stations, and many other items where a combination of lightness, durability, and dimensional stability are required
  • Thanks to its high-temperature melting point, chemical inertness, toughness, and heat conductivity, beryllium oxide is used to prepare refractory crucibles for inductive heating furnaces where high-melting-point metals can be melted. Beryllium oxide is used in the light-engineering industry and in electronics as, for example, a good dielectric. It is a component in waveguide windows and high-strength fiberglass.
  • When operations are commissioned, the project will carry out the full cycle of beryllium production, from mining to producing beryllium metal, bronze, and alloys for strategic industrial sectors.
    Value Chain for Products of the Project
    value chain for beryllium production
    Source: RUSNANO (press release)
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