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What's the value of silicones?

What are cyclosiloxanes?

Cyclosiloxanes are basic members of the broad family of silicone materials. All silicone materials share a common chemistry but each substance is different with regard to its properties and use. To find out more, visit our dedicated Cyclosiloxanes Information Center.

Who invented silicones?

A combination of history and engineering led to the "invention" of silicones. In the 19th century, pioneering chemists discovered how to gain silicon from sand. Silicon is the basis for silicones. Between 1904 and 1940, Professor Frederick Stanley Kipping was the first to achieve extensive synthesis of silicone compounds and coined the name 'silicone' in recognition of similarities with the chemistry of carbon. His work was built on by James Franklin Hyde, who achieved the essential chemical synthesis that opened the way to commercial use of silicones. Find out more here.

What are silicones?

Silicones are high-performance polymers that can take a variety of physical forms, ranging from solids to water-thin liquids and semi-viscous pastes, greases and oils. They have literally revolutionised the performance of thousands of products that add quality to life in terms of enjoyment, comfort and safety. Find out more here.

What are silanes?

Silanes are a family of speciality products, mostly liquids, also based on silicon and closely related to silicones. Like silicones, silanes have a wide range of applications in products vital to modern living. Find out more here.

What are siloxanes?

Siloxanes are basic members of the silicone family, serving as the building blocks for many silicones. Chemically, all siloxanes are characterized by the -Si(CH3)2-O- repeating unit. To find out more about the cyclosiloxanes octamethylcyclotetrasiloxane also known as D4, decamethylcyclopentasiloxane also known as D5 and dodecamethylcyclohexasiloxane also known as D6 (collectively called cVMS or “cyclic volatile methyl siloxanes”). Find out more on www.cyclosiloxanes.eu.

What is the difference between silicon and silicone?

Silicon is the chemical element that is the basis for most inorganic substances. It is present in enormous quantities and indeed makes up 26% of the Earth's crust. However, under natural conditions it very rarely occurs on its own but combined with oxygen - for which it has a strong affinity. The most visible form of silicon compounds are quartz and silica, or common sand.

Silicones are obtained by structurally modifying silicon through the addition of carbon molecules. In this way, silicones are polymers that combine the qualities of a metal with the diversity of plastics.

Do silicones contribute to sustainable development?

Yes, in fact silicones play an extremely important role in promoting sustainable development since they enhance performance of products and appliances. Silicone lends its useful characteristics when applied to other materials allowing them to last longer, spread better, stay flexible or rigid, and withstand extreme temperatures or electricity, and so on. These are qualities that reduce resource consumption while making life safer, more interesting and more comfortable. Find out more here.

How important are silicones to the European economy?

Total sales of silicones in Europe are estimated at 2.5 billion euro a year, making it a significant economic sector which accounts for some 10,000 jobs.  Furthermore, because silicones have so many different applications, the total employment generated by the industry in Europe is actually much higher. Silicones in Europe generate an impressive € 9 billion of wealth per annum for European society. 

Where are silanes used?

Silanes are essential raw materials in the electronics and telecommunications industries where they are used to produce optical fibres and silicon wafers and chips. Some of their many other uses include adhesion promoters in glues, sealants, pigments, paints, textiles and wire and cables, and as strengthening agents to reinforce rubber. Find out more here

Who produces silicones?

CES members, leading silicone and silane producers active in Europe and around the world are:

  • Evonik
  • Dow
  • Momentive Performance Materials
  • Elkem
  • Shin-Etsu Silicones
  • Wacker Silicones

The silicone industry is represented in Europe by CES – Silicones Europe, in North America by the Silicones Environmental Health and Safety Council of North America (SEHSC) and in Japan by the Silicone Industry Association of Japan (SIAJ). Global activities are co-ordinated by the Global Silicones Council (GSC). Find out more here.