100 years of innovation

100 years of technological breakthroughs.

In 1918 Elkem patented a brilliant method that freed smelting plants from having to cool down furnaces and stop production, when the electrodes were exhausted and had to be replaced.

This method of continuous processing comes from the use of the Söderberg electrode, which is named after Carl Wilhelm Söderberg (1876-1955). The electro engineer had the original idea, and his invention led to Elkem becoming a worldwide technology company.

Even today, 100 years later, the Söderberg electrode is still used in in submerged arc furnaces around the world.

From waste to resource

The thick white smoke from the silicon smelting plant's tall factory chimney that some people remember from the 1970s turned out to be waste of the worst kind. The smoke contained a profitable product with fantastically useful properties.

Elkem Microsilica® was an emissions problem but it got turned into a profitable product, with good environmental properties. Elkem developed the scrubbing process, and identified uses for the silicon dust.

In the 1970s Elkem installed the filter technology everywhere quartz was converted into ferrosilicon and silicon. The authorities subsequently made scrubbing a statutory requirement.

Even smaller CO₂ footprint for solar cell electricity

Elkem Solar, which was established in 2009, produces super-pure silicon – Elkem Solar Silicon® (ESS ®), for the solar cell industry, using just a quarter of the energy consumed by its competitors. Ongoing development will reduce the energy consumed even further.

This makes solar energy cheaper to produce and solar power even more climate friendly. Independent tests also show that ESS ® produces more electricity than competing materials, and under conditions characterised by high temperatures and direct sunlight.

Elkem began researching what is now known as Elkem Solar in 1975, and continues to conduct intense research in order to improve products and processes.

Elkem Solar became a part of REC Solar in 2018.