Silicone production

Silicones are high-performance oligomers or polymers that can take a variety of physical forms, ranging from solids to water-thin liquids and semi-viscous pastes, greases, and oils. Their ability to function in conditions that most conventional materials would not withstand are what makes them such an exceptional material.


Silicones are produced by reacting silicon, one of the earth’s most common elements, with methyl chloride to yield a mix of chlorosilanes; after purification by distillation a further reaction with methanol removes the chlorine atom which in most of the processes can be recycled.


This reaction mainly produces linear and cyclic siloxanes characterised by a chain of alternating silicon and oxygen atoms. Siloxanes are then further reacted into longer chains to form methyl-silicone polymers or other functional silicone polymers by introducing functional silanes into the silicone polymer chain.


The methyl chlorosilane, such as dimethyl-dichlorosilane, then goes through a process called “hydrolysis” or “better methanolysis” in which the methyl chlorosilanes are reacted. This leads to the creation of a mixture of siloxanes, the backbone of silicone polymers.

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