What's the value of silicones?

Browse through the European Si industry’s socioeconomic assessment study to find out more.

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, click here.

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 – although there are important differences in the way that they react and form compounds with other elements. 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.


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. The most commonly used siloxanes are 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 here.


What is the difference between silicon and silicone?

Silicon is a chemical element widely distributed on earth in various combinations with oxygen only (silica) or oxygen and other elements (silicates). Silicon is the second most abundant element on the earth’s crust after oxygen (approximately 28% by mass) and it naturally forms long-lived, stable compounds.. 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 diversity and flexibility.

Do silicones contribute to sustainable development?

Yes, in fact silicones play an extremely important role in promoting sustainable development since they enhance the performance of products and appliances. Silicone allows other materials to last longer, spread better, stay flexible or rigid, and withstand extreme temperatures or electricity. These are qualities that reduce resource consumption while making life safer, more interesting and more comfortable. In fact, silicones in products save on average 9 times more CO2 than what is emitted during their production, use and disposal.

How important are silicones to the European economy?

Total sales of silicones in Europe are estimated at 2.5 billion euros 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 and its value chain in Europe is much higher. The use of silicones in Europe generates an impressive € 9 billion of wealth per annum for the European society. Read more in our report.