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Information @ a Glance

General
  • The chemical compound silicon dioxide, also known as silica or silox (from the Latin "silex"), is the oxide of silicon, chemical formula SiO2, and is known for its hardness as early as the 16th century. It is a principle component in most types of glass and substances such as concrete. Silica is found in nature in several forms, including flint, quartz, and opal. In fact, 35 crystalline forms have been identified.
  • Silica structures can be synthesized for biological and nanotech applications in structures such as ormosil. Additionally, many forms of life also contain silica structures (biogenic silica), including microorganisms such as diatoms, plants such as horsetail, and animals such as hexactinellid sponges. It is present in the cell walls of various plants (including edible ones) to strengthen their structural integrity.

Manufacturing Process

  • Silica gel can be described as a coherent, rigid three dimensional network of contiguous particles of colloidal silica. Silica gel is formed by polymerization of silica acid: initially silica acid monomers condense to form colloidal particles, which grow in size and finally these primary particles condense further to a rigid, highly porous, tangled network of branching chains.
  • Ash which has undergone maximum extent of combustion is highly desirable as it contains higher percentage of silica. The selection of ash is important as the quality of ash determines the total amount as well as quality of silica recoverable. The initial step is extraction of silica from ash as sodium silicate using caustic soda.

Technology

  • Robust technique is used for producing silicas that have desirable physical and chemical properties for commercial use, while developing a generic understanding of silica precipitation that will allow extraction to be extended to additional fluid types, and to be easily modified to produce new types of marketable silica.
  • A new process for porous silica production has been developed using a hydrothermal method. Hydrothermally synthesized calcium silicate was used as the starting material in this study, which was produced from a mixture of Ca(OH)2 and amorphous silica (white carbon) under hydrothermal conditions of 140 C and 0.4 MPa, for 8 hours.

Market

  • Most silica sand imported into Canada comes from loosely consolidated and easily processed sandstones or lake sand deposits located near the Great Lakes. The Canadian iron and steel foundry industries used about 74.5% of those imports from the United States, with most of it going to the provinces of Ontario, Manitoba and Quebec. The Canadian glass manufacturing industries used about 25.5% of the imports from the United States
  • The economics of the production and sale of the many types of silica are governed by many factors, but demand for silica is controlled mostly by the fortunes of the glass and foundry industries. The production of silica is usually a low-price, high-tonnage, very competitive operation. A US company who is the largest producer of silica with a reported total capacity of about 550 000 t/y.

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