Opportunities in Silicon Metal Manufacturing. Best Industry for Starting a Business.

Friday, April 27, 2018

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Silicon Metal is known as a semi-metallic or metalloid, having several of the characteristics of metals. It is the second most abundant element in the Earth’s crust after oxygen, naturally occurring in various forms of silicon dioxide or silicates and very rarely in its pure form in volcanic exhalations. Silicon metal is a hard, brittle, and blue-grey lustrous semi-conductive metal, which is used to manufacture solar cells, steel, and microchips, along with various other commodities. Due to the properties such as high corrosion resistivity, machinability, and high thermal conductivity; silicon metal is widely used to manufacture aluminum alloys, silicones, semiconductors, and solar panels.

Silicon metal is derived from quartz (silicon dioxide). It is purified elemental silicon alloyed with significant quantities of other elements such as aluminum and calcium.

Silicon metals find application in silicones and silanes, solar panels, aluminum alloys, laboratory reagents, and stainless steel, among others. The use of silicon metal in aluminum alloys is the highest. The demand for silicon metals to be used in silanes/silicones has also been significant over the years. This can be attributed to the application of silicones in the manufacturing of various chemicals and materials used in personal care products, building and construction, electronics, plastics, and textiles.

The favorable properties of silicon, such as low processing and extraction costs, reduced temperature susceptibility, easy doping, and low current leakage, make it the most preferred metal for the production of semiconductors.

A major market driver is the continuous growing demand for silicon metal for the production of aluminum alloys, which are used in the foundry, automotive, and aerospace industries. When used with aluminum, silicon improves hardness, strength, and castability, and, hence, are used significantly in the production of aluminum alloys. Further, they are used to manufacture silicon compounds and silicon wafers, which are used to manufacture semiconductors and photovoltaic cells.

The global silicon metal market is predicted to fuel owing to the rising economic development of numerous developing economies. The global silicon metal market is predicted to touch US$3.4 bn by end of 2024, rising at a CAGR of 5.20% between 2016 and 2024. The increasing demand for solar panels is predicted to provide impetus to the development of this market. In addition, the rising application of aluminum alloys within the segment of transportation will also bode well for the development of the market. The increasing innovation within production process of solar grade silicon will raise the proliferation of solar modules and reduce costs. This has emerged as a key opportunity in the development of the global silicon metal market.

In addition, silicon metals are also being employed in silicones/silanes. This is owing to the increasing application of silicones for the manufacturing of numerous materials and chemicals utilized in textiles, plastics, electronics, building, and personal care products. On the other hand, the utilization of silicon metal within semiconductors is poised to rise at the most swiftest growth rate over the forecast period. Factors such as the low current leakage, reduced temperature, susceptibility, and low extraction and processing costs of silicon are raising their employment in semiconductors.

Silicon metal is purified elemental silicon alloyed with significant quantitates of other elements including aluminum and calcium. It is derived through thermal reduction of quartz (silicon dioxide) in an electric arc furnace with carbon electrodes. Silicon metal is majorly used in the production of aluminum alloys. Rising demand for aluminum alloys in transportation is likely to boost the market for silicon metal during the forecast period. Threat from supply dynamics of raw material and high production cost are expected to hamper market growth during the forecast period.

With the increased usage of aluminum in structural engineering, aircraft manufacturing, and the automotive industry, there has been augmented demand for silicon metal to manufacture aluminum alloys that are lighter and resistant to corrosion. Silicon was found to increase an alloy’s wear resistance, which has made aluminum-silicon alloy castings attractive substitutes for gray iron in automotive applications. Moreover, silicon with its low cost and ease of extraction has become a good option for casting alloy for aluminum. Hence, with the growing emphasis on lightweight and stronger components across various industries, the ability of aluminum-silicon alloys to provide these characteristics at affordable prices is expected to drive the demand for the silicon market over the forecast period.


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