Silicone manufacturing process involves a number of chemical reactions and processes.
Through polymerization and hydrolysis, you can get any grade of silicone material.
In this guide, you will learn all critical steps in silicone manufacturing:
Step 1: Source For Quality Raw Material
Metallurgical gravel or quartz is the primary raw material for making silicone. In most cases, 99.5% of the raw material is silica.
Quartz Silicone Raw Material
Through various processes, you can transform the raw material to:
- Liquid rubbers
Step 2: Blend Gravel Or Quartz With Carbon Source Then Heat
The gravel or quartz is silica or silicon dioxide.
Blend the silica with carbon then heat in a furnace at a temperature of about 1800˚C.
At high temperature, carbon will react with silicon dioxide. As result, carbon will remove oxygen from silicon dioxide.
Get Silicon From Silicon Dioxide
We refer to this as a reduction process.
By the end of this process, you will have silicon and carbon monoxide. You can have the silicon either in powder or liquid form ready for the next process.
On average, it can take about 6 hours to extract silicon. It will depend on the efficiency of the electric furnace and the quantity of raw materials.
Step 3: Making Silicone From Silicon
Again, you will blend methyl chloride with silicon power in the right proportion.
Heating this mixture triggers a chain reaction producing methyl chlorosilane. The main compound in methyl chlorosilane is dimethyldichlorosilane. It is a critical component of silicone.
Step 4: Getting Silicone From Dimethyldichlorosilane
You will subject the mixture to an accurate distillation process. Through distillation, you will separate various compounds of chlorosilanes.
Next, you will add water to the mixture. As a result, you will get two products:
- Hydrochloric acid
Disilanol will condense forming polydimethylsiloxane. At this stage, hydrochloric acid will act as a catalyst for the process.
The process of forming polydimethylsiloxane is hydrolysis.
At this stage, you will get the polydimethylsiloxane. It is silicone’s backbone due to existence of siloxane bond.
Finally, you will subject silicone to a polymerization process. You can adopt any technique depending on the grade and type of properties you want.
Remember, silicone is commercially available in different forms such as silicone resin, silicone grease and silicone rubber, just to mention a few.
With the advancement in technologies, silicone manufacturing process is simple and cost effective. This explain why silicone is a popular material for most industrial and home products.
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