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Silicon dioxide

Silicon dioxide (CAS Number: 7631-86-9) is an oxide of silicon with the chemical formula SiO2. It is also known as silica, which is a natural compound made of earth’s most abundant elements: silicon (Si) and oxygen (O2). This chemical compound is found in various living organisms and quartz.



Silicon dioxide is primarily procured through mining, inclusive of sand mining and purification of quartz.

- Silica fume

The production of ferrosilicon gives silica fume as a byproduct. It has lower purity as compared to fumed silica. Silica fume differs from fumed silica in terms of particle characteristics, production process and areas of applications.


- Precipitated silica

Amorphous or precipitated silica is obtained through the acidification of sodium silicate solution. Silica gel is washed and dehydrated to form colorless porous silica. The reaction of trisilicate with sulfuric acid is as follows:

Na2Si3O7 + H2SO4 -> 3 SiO2 + Na2SO4 + H2O


- Thermal oxidation on microchips

Silica films form over silicon wafers through thermal oxidation, which is a thin layer of about 1 nm to 10 Å. Alternative environments with higher temperatures are used to produce controlled layers of silicon dioxide. This is done with a temperature range of 600 to 1200 °C through wet or dry oxidation. The reaction is as follows:

Si + O2 -> SiO2


- Through organosilicon compounds

Silica can be synthesized using tetraethyl orthosilicate. This is done by heating tetraethyl orthosilicate at 680 to 730 °C. The reaction is as follows:

Si(OC2H5)4 -> SiO2  + 2 O(C2H5)2



Silicon dioxide finds applications in the construction industryfor the manufacture of concrete. It is used in the manufacturing of metallic components, which have engineering and other applications. It is used in hydraulic fracturing of formations, which contain shale gas and tight oil.Silica is the main ingredient used in the production of glass. Silicon dioxide is used as an additive in food production, where it is used as a hygroscopic and flow agent. It is used as an anticaking agent in coffee creamers and spices. Colloidal silicon dioxide is used as a juice fining agent, which has the E number reference of E551. Hydrated silica is present in toothpaste in the form of hard abrasive to remove plaque.



Inhalation of silica and can lead tobronchitis,silicosis,lung tissue inflammation, lung cancer and systemic autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Its ingestion can cause irritation of the digestive tract. It may cause cancer in human beings. Prolonged exposure can lead to delayed lung injury. Silicon dioxide suppliers and distributers must be aware of this chemical’s toxicity.


Handling and Storage

Dust generation and accumulation must be minimized. Contact with eyes, skin and clothing should be avoided. It must not be inhaled or ingested. Silicon dioxide should only be used under a chemical fume hood. It should be stored in a tightly closed container under cool and dry conditions. Silicon dioxide suppliers must carefully handle and store this chemical.


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