Profitable Silicones innovations

A portfolio with more than 1,200 patents and an average of 10 products are developed each year. It illustrates Elkem Silicones’ capacity to innovate. The division is dedicating more than 4% of its turnover to R&D. Products that are less than five years old generate over 20% of sales.

Almost 230 researchers work every day all over the world to develop environmentally friendly processes and adapt and create new products for new markets. The R&D, sales, marketing and operations departments work together to understand and anticipate customer needs, develop solutions and manufacture new products.

Products and process innovations are in line with global trends. The look at topics such as the need for environmental protection, the development of health and life sciences, increased urbanisation, new forms of mobility and global population growth. Elkem Silicones intent on creating new market sectors for autonomous electric vehicles, as well as combining 3D printing and silicone chemistry.

Major innovations over the past 10 years

Eco-design:

  • 2009: Launch of a new silicone resin manufacturing process – the key raw material for the airbag market – a process to limit effluents and reduce energy costs
  • 2011: Development of a new range of green catalysts for silicone materials
  • 2014: Start-up of the Cleantech programme seeking to reduce effluents and improve water treatment in Elkem Silicones’ factories
  • 2016: Introduction of an energy-saver to reduce gas consumption for the distillation column in Roussilon, France

Over the last few years, the Silicones division has developed a Silcolease UV range for release coating applications and in particular for the labels market, as an alternative to solvent-based solutions.

Life sciences: health care and personal care

  • 2011: New range of Mirasil D-DML products for the cosmetics market
  • 2012: New Silbione HC2 range adhesive gels for medical applications, non-traumatic removal of wound treatment, etc.
  • 2015: Development of the Silbione M550 silicone elastomer for long-term medical implant applications

Safety: food, public safety

  • 2015: Launch of BLUESIL FRC 8470, a new generation of silicone elastomers (EVC) for high fire-resistant cable applications


Urbanisation and mobility

  • 2011: New range of Blusil NOVOLASTIC products, foams to insulate sub-sea pipelines for oil extraction
  • 2016: Launch of Bluesil ESA 600HT, a silicone gel solution for new generations of power modules: UGBT (Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistors), part of the silicone development programme for electronic applications
  • 2017: Elkem Silicones will launch a new product for airbag fabric coating

Global population growth

  • 2011: Launch of the Silcolease OPTIMA range of the release coating market
  • 2012: As a leader on the paper release market, the Silicones division is developing the new Silcolease Emulsion 925. In 2017, the Silicones division plans to bring new innovative solutions to this market
  • 2014: Lauch of Bluesil RTFoam 3243, a new silicone foam technology for a wide range of sealing applications (e.g. household appliances)
  • 2014: Silcolapse 801 bolsters the range of ani-foams with improved performance, reducing the use of foam in manufacturing processes for paper pulp and offering high machine productivity

Silicone rubbers save lives

Most deaths in fire incidents are caused by gas or smoke. The average time from ignition to flashover has gone from 15 minutes in 1950 to three minutes today, because we use more plastics both at home and at work.

Elkem Silicones has over the years developed silicone rubber insulations for electrical cables that significantly reduce the risk of fatalities caused by smoke or toxic substances in case of fire. Bluesil™ FRC 8470 is the latest silicone rubber innovation for electrical and other cables.

The Silicones division tests cables by burning them at temperatures over 900 °C for a relatively long time (>30 minutes) to ensure that the insulated sheath does not burn, and that it maintains its protection of the cables. This ensures that electrical or other system functions during fire, which is important when evacuating people.

It is important that the rubber does not emit halogen gases when exposed to high temperatures. Halogen gases varies from extremely toxic to somewhat toxic. They are all of a great danger to human health.

The Silicones division has an established track record in the production of safety cables used in many applications, such as power distribution, safety equipment and telecommunications. The division works closely with customers to provide expert advice and fast-track development services. They deliver customised halogen-free silicone rubber (HCR) solutions that meet the performance criteria needed to comply with the most rigorous safety standards.

This article was first published in Elkem’s sustainability report 2016.