Silicones play an increasingly important role supporting improvement, innovation and progress in a wide range of industry sectors, from automobiles to electronics to textiles. Silicone innovation has been and remains crucial for the development of many modern technologies that enhance energy efficiency, safety and comfort. Green innovations, such as the electric vehicle and the LED lamp, rely on silicone technology and silicone construction materials are significantly contributing to the sustainability of buildings. Did you know that car airbags are treated with silicone to facilitate proper functionality?
Towards electric and hybrid vehicles Whether powered by conventional internal combustion engines or novel electric and fuel-cell engines, automobiles are increasingly equipped with more sophisticated electric and electronic systems. These systems need to be properly insulated and protected from moisture, heat and vibration. Silicones are ideal for insulating and encapsulating materials.
Hybrid-electric vehicles employ powerful batteries that can be hazardous in the event of an accident; therefore providing robust, shock-resistant insulation is vital. While fully electric or hybrid vehicles may remain niche products, other sensitive electronic systems such as brake-energy regeneration, “stop-and-start” technology, advanced air-conditioning systems and fuel-injection control benefit from silicone technology and all add up to more efficient cars.
Making our future brighter Light-Emitting Diodes, more commonly known as LEDs, are in use everywhere. They provide keypad backlighting for many consumer electronic devices we love — flat screen TVs, cell phones, computer monitors, even interior and exterior lighting. LEDs are also becoming increasingly prevalent in brake lights, traffic lights and other lights that are designed to enhance safety.
Silicones, being highly heat resistant and stable materials, are playing an important role in the mass-scale deployment of energy efficient LED lighting, such as street lamps. Silicone lenses are replacing older LED lenses that were made of less heat resistant materials, leading the lamps to yellow with age and distort the entire color spectrum.
Giving architects the freedom to create In buildings all over the world, rubber-like adhesive sealants hold glass firmly in place and keep the weather out. Their use dramatically increases architects' freedom of design and are a key component in structural glazing.
Structural glazing is a modern building technique where large glass panels are treated to become extremely strong. The panels are glued together to create the spectacular glass facades that we see on many of today’s most prestigious architectural projects.
Standard building methods would demand a very thick structural joint to support the weight of the glass panels, minimizing the visual impact of structural glazing. With silicone joints, buildings can let in more natural sunlight without compromising structural integrity or insulation.
Improving safety and comfort Thanks to silicone innovations, makers of airbags are able to meet changing design and tougher foldability and cushioning requirements. The inflation of an airbag generates immense pressure and extremely hot temperatures that silicones are able to withstand.
Silicones in airbags provide additional strengthening, sealing and uniformity functionality. Silicone coatings also render the fabric gastight and heat resistant, to support proper timing of inflation so that the bag does not get too hard, while expanding fast enough to cushion the passenger.