Silicon is a chemical element with an atomic number of 14 and the chemical symbol, Si. Silicon looks like a metal and has a metallic glint. The element has a melting point of 2,577°F, and a boiling point of 5,909°F. Silicon is hard but easily breakable and is grayish blue in color. Silicon is less reactive and has a high chemical affinity for oxygen. The element is number eight among the common elements by mass but cannot be easily found in its pure form. Silicon is also the second most available element on earth after oxygen because it is distributed in soil, dust and other earth substances. The majority of silicon that is used commercially is not separated from impurities. This type of silicon is used with clay or silica sand in industrial constructions. Silicate is also used in cement and mixed with silica sand and gravel to make strong concretes that may be used in road construction. The element is used to make alloys like iron silicon and aluminum-silicon. These alloys are used to make engine blocks and transformer plates. Silicon is also used to make silicon-oxygen polymers and in cosmetics, hair conditioners, rubber sealant for bathrooms, and in electronic devices as a semi-conductor among others.
Which Country Produces the Most Silicon?
China is the world’s largest producer of silicon with approximately 4,600,000 tons produced each year. China produces more than half of the total silicon in the world. The silicon industry in China has grown over the last two decades mainly because of the rise in domestic and international consumption. For domestic consumption, the industry that consume the most silicon are the photovoltaic, building, and transport industries. To stimulate a domestic consumption of the element, China has incentive policies for households and industries that consume silicon. The incentives have enabled growth of companies like Suntech to a global level. Companies also enjoy preferential tax policies like exemptions that attract more investors to the industry and help diversify the economy. China exports silicon to alloy industries in Japan poly-silicon industries in South Korea, European countries. China’s technological advancement has also given rise to silicon consumption.
Russia is the world’s second largest producer of silicon after China with approximately 747,000 tons produced annually. Competing economically with the West, silicon in Russia comes in handy in their ever-growing technology sector. Currently, the biggest “Silicon Valley,” in the world, a technological hub, is being built in Russia. With giant technology companies like HP, Kaspersky, and Vito technology, Russia’s silicon consumption can only rise. Sectors such as transport and construction contribute to domestic consumption. The county also exports silicon to many countries in Asia, Europe, and South America.
The United States of America
The US is the third largest global producer of silicon with close to 326,000 tons annually. Just like the other countries, silicon is used in transport, construction and technology sectors in the US. Silicon is used to produce solar and electronic grade polysilicon in the US. The country also uses and exports these products for the manufacture of smart devices, electronic devices, hybrid vehicle parts among others.
Silicon's use is already cemented in the future. With the advancement in transport and construction technology as well as the development of new technological devices that depend on silicon, the element's consumption is set to increase. The continued development of underdeveloped countries is also pushing silicon consumption up. New mechanisms of extracting silicon are also being used in many countries.