The diversity of products silicon is a major component of; such as glass, aluminum, automotive alloys, microchips, and solar panels ensure a strong demand for silicon metal.
Silicon is an incredibly abundant resource, as it’s the second most common element on the planet.
However, pure silicon is hard to come by in a natural setting. More commonly, purified silicon is developed by refining silica, which is a combination of minerals (the most notable being quartz) combined with oxygen.
Silicon metal is a grey metallically lustrous metal with certain characteristics, such as its semi-conductive status, as well as a high melting point and strength that allows it to be used for various industrial processes including the manufacturing of steel, aluminum alloys, solar panels, and microchips.
The strength of the global silicon market can be attributed to the diversity of products silicon is a major component of. Glass, aluminum, automotive alloys, microchips, and photovoltaic solar panels have ensured there is a strong and growing demand for the resource.
The confidence in the silicon market should remain high, as varying industry trends indicate that silicon metal usage will continue to rise in the coming years.
There are a few key industries that are projected to have a significant impact on the silicon metal market.
Firstly, the automotive industry is trending in the direction of smaller and lighter cars, as to increase fuel efficiency. This bodes well for the silicon market, as silumin, a combination of aluminum and silicon, is relatively light, and can be used as a replacement for heavy cast iron and steel car components.
The solar industry, which has exploded in growth in the past decade, represents another major opportunity for silicon metal producers. Silicon is a primary component in solar cells, as the metals semi-conductive status enables the photovoltaic process of converting sunlight into electricity.
In recent years, China has been the largest consumer of silicon metal, as solar production in the country has exploded.
This demonstrates just how important silicon is in solar panel production. High-end electronics is yet another industry that is reliant on silicon metal.
Micro-computer chips, or silicon wafers, are used for the fabrication of integrated circuits. As the electronic market continues to grow, so will the demand for silicon metal.
The world is quickly innovating new ways of integrating technology into the daily fabric of society, a feat which should reassure the silicon metal market, as it will be at the forefront of industries directly benefitting.
While the forecast for silicon metal looks overwhelmingly positive, there are still certain constraining factors that may hamper the industry’s growth. While the usage of the metal will undoubtedly rise, the cost of producing it varies significantly across the world.
This is because of input factors such as labor costs, raw materials, transportation, and energy usage. Producing silicon metal is extremely energy intensive due to the necessary purification process.
As a result, it is imperative that a long term, a stable energy source is available. This, along with the large deposits of raw materials needed to produce the metal, means that while certain production areas may succeed, others may not.
The demand for silicon metal is heading in an upward trajectory, but there are still restraining factors, such as market volatility for factor inputs, as well as a high production cost, that will offer potential interference in the silicon metal market.
Since 2015 HPQ Silicon Resources INC. has been working on developing a new process for producing high-grade Silicon metal (Si) for the manufacture of solar cells.