|Silicone is made from silicon dioxide, or silica - found in nature as quartz, or common beach sand.
First, the silica is put into a Silicon Furnace, where a carbon electrical arc reacts at high temperatures to drive the oxygen out of the silica. The oxygen combines with the carbon in the arc to form carbon dioxide and leaving silicon metal.
Silicon Furnace - United States
Fluidized Bed Reactor - China
|The silicon is powdered, then combined with a copper catalyst and methylene chloride in a Fluidized Bed Reactor, which mixes fluid and solid ingredients at such high velocities that solid particles are completely suspended. The methylated chlorine reacts with the silicon, forming several different 'silanes' - chemicals which have a chain of silicon atoms as a backbone.
|Silanes can be combined with each other, with a related family of chemicals called siloxanes, and metallic or other additives to make silicone resins with different properties. When combined with a catalyst, the long-chain molecules in the resin cross-link together to make the various forms of silicone we use today.