Pure silicon appears as a blue-grey metallic solid. Silicon is most commonly found paired with oxygen, silica. It is considered a metalloid. China produces a large percentage of the world’s silicon supply, contributing to about 4.6 million metric tons in 2016. In comparison, the U.S. produced about 396,000 metric tons in the same year. The price of silicon metal reached 0.91 U.S. dollars per pound in 2016, while ferrosilicon (50% silicon) averaged about 0.69 U.S. dollars per pound.
About 46,000 metric tons of silicon metal and 7,000 metric tons of ferrosilicon was exported out of the United States in 2016. The country consumed about 634,000 metric tons in the same year. Silicon is a diverse element, accounting for about 30 percent of the Earth’s crust and is one of the most abundant elements. Its versatility affords great use from the industrial sector. It is commonly used in the electronics industry, as part of cylinder heads or machine tools. It is also used in the commercial sector, for example, as an oil in cosmetics and hair conditioners.