What is Silicone Rubber?
Silicone rubber is a modern category of elastomer (rubber-like material). It differs from organic elastomers, such as natural rubber, latex and polyurethane, because of its mineral nature. Silicone rubber is made from Silicon and Oxygen with some hydrogen and carbon. This makes it a very unique material. It’s tough enough to use in jet engines yet safe enough to use in baby bottle teats. Silicone rubber is generally non-reactive, stable and resistant to extreme environments and temperatures (-55°C – 300°C).
The 19th century saw silicone rubber develop in leaps and bounds. Firstly, the element itself needed to be discovered.
In 1824, Swedish chemist, Jöns Jackob Berzelius first managed to isolate silicon on its own using potassium. He then heated silicon in chlorine, which had the effect of a vigorous combustion.
The result was silicon tetrachloride, one of the materials used to produce silicones today. We credit Berzelius as the founder of silicon.
Silicon in its more common crystalline form was not prepared until 31 years later, by Henry Sainte-Claire Deville.
In 1854, Deville obtained pure silicon via an electrolysis smelting process. Many chemists continued to research the chemistry of silicon throughout the 19th century.
The Three forms of Silicone Rubber
Silicone rubber is available in three main forms:
- HCR (High Consistency Rubber)
- LR/LSR (Liquid Silicone Rubber)
- RTV (Room Temperature Vulcanising)