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Silicones: Enabling the Energy Revolution

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Betsy Beckwith
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The products of silicone chemistry enable our nation’s efforts to improve energy efficiency — from insulation to coolants to packaging — and are critical to the many innovative technologies that help drive cleaner energy options, create green jobs and propel U.S. economic growth.

Silicone products are critical to the energy sector – they are used in renewable energy sources like solar panels and wind turbines, as well as in traditional energy sources like oil, gas, and electricity.

Improving Energy Efficiency

In solar panels, for example, silicones are used as conductive adhesives and encapsulants, providing durable bonds and seals, electrical insulation and a reliable interconnection of solar cells – supporting high electrical conductivity and flexibility while contributing to lower material costs.  Their resistance to ultraviolet radiation and strong transparency can improve panel efficiency, while their mechanical and chemical properties, such as flexibility and resistance to temperature and corrosion, can reduce repair needs and ensures the panels last longer.

Silicones also are used as bonding agents in the manufacture of wind turbines, helping to increase the durability and weather resistance of rotor blades and components. As lubricants, they facilitate the smooth performance of these rotor blades, helping to reduce wind turbine maintenance costs and maximizing energy efficiency.  Silicones allow for larger wind turbines with greater energy potential. 

In the oil and gas industry, silicones are the most widely used antifoam agents. They allow for higher extraction rates of oil and gas, reducing water usage and increasing efficiency. Further, silicones contribute to maintain throughput and production in wells, rigs, refineries and in transportation of oil, which helps deliver savings by reducing oil leakage and downstream equipment damage.

Policies that Help the Energy Revolution

ACC’s Silicones Environmental, Health, and Safety Center (SEHSC) supports policies to improve energy efficiency and is committed to good product stewardship and providing society with silicone products that support smart energy policies.  In fact, by using products made with silicones, you may save 9 times more greenhouse gases than what was emitted during the manufacture of these silicone materials. In other words, for every ton of carbon dioxide emitted, the use of silicones can allow for savings 9 times greater.

The chemical industry and innovations in chemistry are part of the climate change solution. We are putting our brightest minds to work developing transformational technologies that cut emissions and improve energy efficiency both within our industry and throughout the value chain, to enable a socially, environmentally and economically sustainable future. Encouraging the use of energy efficiency technologies in the industrial, commercial and residential sectors, made in part possible by silicones, will lead to significant energy savings throughout the world.

American Chemistry Council

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) represents the leading companies engaged in the business of chemistry. ACC members apply the science of chemistry to make innovative products and services that make people's lives better, healthier and safer. ACC is committed to improved environmental, health and safety performance through Responsible Care®; common sense advocacy designed to address major public policy issues; and health and environmental research and product testing. The business of chemistry is a $486 billion enterprise and a key element of the nation's economy. It is among the largest exporters in the nation, accounting for ten percent of all U.S. goods exports. Chemistry companies are among the largest investors in research and development. Safety and security have always been primary concerns of ACC members, and they have intensified their efforts, working closely with government agencies to improve security and to defend against any threat to the nation’s critical infrastructure.

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