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Metallurgical grade silicon metal and silicone rubber: A matter of national security

by William B. Stockwell, Stockwell Elastomerics; Scott Kearns, ElastaPro; Paul DiCaprio, Specialty Silicone Products; Ken Baker, New Age Industries; and Steve Melito, Thunderbolt Business Services

Metallurgical grade silicon metal (SiME) is essential to the production of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) silicone rubber, a material that is indispensable to modern life. As this article will show, metallurgical grade SiME, and not simply silicon, belongs on the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Critical Materials List because of its importance to national security. Currently, the DOE’s Critical Materials List includes “silicon,” a term that is overly broad because it also includes elemental silicon and polysilicon. These materials are important, of course, but they are different from metallurgical grade SiME, which is critical to the silicone rubber industry.

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