Discover the five-step process of making silicone, from raw materials to finished product, in this article.
Many different industries make use of silicone, a highly versatile synthetic casting material. Products we use every day contain silicone, including cars, food preparation and storage items, baby bottles and pacifiers, and dental and other personal hygiene items. Also, cured silicone is commonly used for respiratory masks, IV’s, and other medical devices that can save our lives.
Polysiloxane, also known as silicon, is a material made by humans. An alternating chain of oxygen and silicon atoms is found in molecules that form this polymer, which has a rubber-like consistency.
Silicone production and understanding has come a long way since it’s first widely accepted use in 1945!
EDIT Many different industries make use of silicone, a highly versatile synthetic casting material. Products we use every day contain silicone, including cars, food preparation and storage items, baby bottles and pacifiers, and dental and other personal hygiene items. Also, cured silicone is commonly used for respiratory masks, IV’s, and other medical devices that can save our lives.
Natural compounds like silica are found all over the world. Almost every rock, clay, and sand on earth contains silica, which makes up over a quarter of the planet’s crust.
A number of forms are available, including emerald, quartz, clay, and glass. There are many uses for silica in industry, for example as an anti-caking agent in foods, as well as in concrete.
In order to produce silicone, silicon must first be isolated from silica. In order to accomplish this, a large volume of quartz sand is heated up to 1800 degrees Celsius. As a result, pure, isolated silicon is obtained. In order to make fine powder, manufacturers grind it after it cools.
Mixing silicon powder with methyl chloride is the next step. Fluidized bed reactors are commonly used for this purpose. It consists essentially of a large tank with pipes running to and from it. A high velocity and slight pressure are applied to the methyl chloride as it passes through the silicon powder within the reactor at a temperature of 300 degrees centigrade. Methyl chlorosilane is formed, which contains atoms of chlorine as well as silicon. Dimethyldichlorosilane is the primary building block of silicone, and methyl chlorosilane consists of several compounds.
As a result of the complex distillation process used to separate methyl chlorosilane’s components, dimethyldichlorosilane can be converted to silicone. A series of precise temperatures must be reached because chlorosilanes have various boiling points.
The compounds contained in methyl chlorosilane can be used to make a variety of silicones. As each of these has a different boiling point, they can be separated by distillation, applying a different precise temperature to extract which one.
Adding dimethyldichlorosilane to water causes hydrochloric acid and disilanol to separate after distillation. When the hydrochloric acid is applied, the disilanol is catalysed into polydimethylsiloxane. This also allows any air bubbles trapped in the solution to be released.
The polydimethylsiloxane molecule contains siloxane bonds. An important role is played by this bond as the silicone’s backbone. Depending on the properties of the final product, silicone can be polymerized in different ways before being poured into a silicone mold.
In reality, liquid silicone and silicone rubber production is a fairly straightforward process that can be scaled up and at a relatively low cost on a mass scale. Consequently, it is not surprising that versatile silicone has become one of the most popular mass production elastomers in commercial and industrial applications.
For more information about how we can create silicone products for a variety of different applications, such as caulk, acrylic, putty and epoxy resin, contact us today. We can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at +44 (0) 1252 375 013.