GLOBAL BERYLLIUM SUPPLY CHAIN AND MATERIALS FLOW ANALYSIS
In addition to studying beryllium resources, the United States Geological Survey tracks production, processing, trade, and recycling flows throughout the global beryllium industry. In general, global demand for beryllium has increased for critical application areas such as aerospace, defense, energy, medical, and nuclear technology. Therefore, understanding the status of above-ground beryllium materials remains a priority to ensure a stable supply well into the future. Quantitative modeling of in-use stocks, product lifetimes, and end-of-life flows provides estimates of important components of potential supply.
Materials flow analysis of production and consumption data compiled by the USGS National Minerals Information Center over multiple decades reveals several insights. The majority of beryllium produced in the past is currently unavailable for recovery because it was either: 1) alloyed with copper or other metals that were recycled for their primary content without recovering beryllium, or 2) used as beryllium metal in nuclear, defense, or aerospace applications where it was contaminated or lost in action. In-use stocks represent another large reservoir of beryllium materials, such as in electrical applications, plastic injection molds, and structural components in aircraft. As materials used in these applications flow out of use, secondary production from the recycling of beryllium metal and alloy scrap constitutes an increasingly important part of the supply chain.