What is Si?
Although some of my compounds have been known since antiquity, it was not until 1823 that the Swedish chemist Jöns Jacob Berzelius managed to obtain me in my pure form and identify my characteristics. In Latin, my name means stone.
Ranked between metals and non-metals in the periodic table, I belong to the metalloids family. I am the most abundant element in the Earth's crust after oxygen but I do not naturally exist in a free state on Earth. I am, however, commonly found in the form of oxides, and I am one of the main components of clay, granite, quartz and sand.
My applications are varied. I am used in the manufacture of glass, ceramics, silicones, optical fibers, etc.
In my purest form – up to 99.99999...% purity – my semiconductor properties are used in photovoltaic panel cells to convert solar energy into electricity and I boast numerous applications in the field of electronics. I have given my name to “Silicon Valley.”
I am Silicon.
Decades of experience to improve the lifespan of tires
Solvay produces hundreds of thousands of tonnes of precipitated silica from sand and sodium carbonate every year. Silica or silicon dioxide (SiO2), one of the compounds of silicon, is notably a crucial element in the highly complex composition of tires. Thanks to our decades of experience, we’ve been able to fully understand the effects of silica on the mechanical properties of elastomers and rubber. We know how to design the architecture of silica in order to adapt its morphology, interface and dispersion within the tire to obtain the desired properties. The first “green tire” using silica was co-developed by Solvay with Michelin back in 1992. Today, Solvay’s new grade of silica, Premium SW, directly contributes to reducing CO2 emissions from cars. And by improving the lifespan of tires, it also reduces resource consumption and pollution.