The Plain Dealer
The Pentagon is helping underwrite plans at Brush Wellman Inc. for a primary beryllium plant being considered for a site in Utah or Ohio.
The Cleveland company closed its obsolete primary beryllium operation in Elmore, Ohio, about five years ago, after the Defense Logistics Agency said it would begin selling beryllium from a national strategic stockpile.
Since then, Brush, a unit of Brush Engineered Materials Inc. in Cleveland, has been buying the strong, lightweight metal in the form of cast beryllium ingots from the stockpile under a long-term contract. The ingots are used in making critical parts for missiles, satellites and jet fighters and some nondefense products. The parts are machined by other manufacturers from beryllium supplied by Brush.
Company officials said there is no viable substitute for beryllium in several defense applications. Since the Elmore operation closed, the nation has lacked a sustainable domestic supply, the officials said.
As the strategic stockpile declines, Brush will be working on the new plant, which is expected to be up and running by the end of this decade.
“We expect there will be material [in the stockpile] to take us through most of this decade, which will be the period of time it will take us to build the new plant,” said Michael Anderson, president of Brush Wellman’s beryllium products group. The firm also buys small amounts of beryllium from a producer in Kazakhstan.