Silicon is the second most common element in the Earth’s crust, although it is hard to find in nature as a pure element. The total production volume of silicon worldwide in 2022 amounted to an estimated 8.8 million metric tons. China is by far the world’s largest producer of silicon, including silicon content for ferrosilicon and silicon metal. Around six million metric tons of silicon was produced in China in 2022, which accounted for nearly two-thirds of the global silicon production that year. Other major silicon producers are Russia, Brazil, Norway, and the United States.
Silicon and its end-uses
Silicon is used in the production of steel, cast irons, superalloys and other alloys, as well as in ceramics and bricks, among other more high-profile uses. As the similarities in the names suggest, silicon is also the basis for omnipresent silicones - silicon-based polymers. As polysilicon—a particularly pure form of silicon—silicon is vital for the photovoltaic industry. Another important use of silicon is the use of highly refined silicon in electronics, often as semiconductors for discrete devices and integrated circuits. The global silicon chip/semiconductor shortage also thrust silicon into the international spotlight when it began during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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