Silicon dioxide: Betting Big on Applications and Demand

April 2021

The two main challenges of the industry are environmental stewardship and energy efficiency. Silicon dioxide (also known as sand) is the second most abundant mineral on Earth, only beaten by aluminum oxide. This makes silicon dioxide one of the most widespread constituents of soils and other terrestrial environments. Among its many uses, silicon dioxide is found in glass, rubber materials, toothpaste, and concrete mixes. It also can be found in dietary supplements such as Pectasol-C with Bioflavonoids, which is a patented product made from citrus peels. Silica has properties that can help improve joint mobility and flexibility because it’s a necessary component for collagen production to promote elasticity and strength.

The present state of the global silicon dioxide industry has led to some environmental concerns. Silicon dioxide is the main component in glass and mirrors. It is also used as a polishing agent for diamonds. These products are manufactured using chemicals that are harmful to the environment but they can reach the human body through food, beverage, personal care or drug products. The European Union has banned some of these chemicals but additional regulations need to be put in place to protect people from exposure.

Silicon dioxide has been proved to be beneficial in osteoarthritis, or the inflammation of the joints. This element is widely used in pharmaceuticals, such as hydroxyapatite and compounds used to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Many supplements claim that silicon dioxide can improve digestion and metabolism. However, there is no evidence to support the health benefits of Silicon Dioxide – it does not cure or treat any disease in humans. However, scientific studies into silicon dioxide have found that it does have a positive impact on cardiovascular health and properties related to immunity. This elemental nutrient has a wide range of uses due to its effectiveness.

Silicon dioxide is the second most abundant solid in the Earth’s crust yet it is only found in trace amounts compared to terrestrial rocks. It does not occur naturally but instead can be manufactured by the bisulfite reaction of sulfur trioxide or by dehydrogenation of boron trifluoride. Silicon dioxide has the chemical formula SiO and bonds to other elements such as oxygen, carbon and hydrogen with its strongest bond being with hydrogen. Most often silicon dioxide molecules have a tetrahedral structure, which consists of four silicon molecules arranged around a central atom to form a framework called an orthosilicic acid molecule (produced at high temperatures).

This molecule contains three tetrahedral SiO centers. By itself, silicon dioxide is not stable and will react with various chemicals. However, because of the strong bonds between the constituent molecules, it is stable in the solid form.

Silicon dioxide is also known as silica, flint and quartz sand are just a few of many different names used for this mineral. It appears in nature as a white powder or crystal colorless solid and has an amorphous structure. The molecular bonds within the crystal are weak which allows it to be easily compressed but does not allow it to dissolve or melt and remain in its physical state.

Silicon dioxide's strong affinity for water makes it an important component of several geologic materials such as sand and concrete. In electronics, silicone dioxide's insulating properties can be used to reduce leakage currents in transistors and other semiconductor devices. Construction projects require large amounts of this material but many of the traditional manufacturing processes for silicon dioxide use fossil fuels which are harmful to the environment. The potential exists for new methods that use renewable power sources such as biomass or solar power.

There are several challenges currently facing scientists who are considering new manufacturing techniques for silicon dioxide. It must be cost-effective once it comes time to start mass producing it on a large scale.

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