Much like 2021, the silicone industry saw soaring demand, choked supply lines and labor retainment difficulties.
Bucking some expert predictions, raw material pricing did not plateau in 2022 after a year of volatility—rather, pricing dropped slightly.
But unlike last year, upstream silicone suppliers—specifically in the HCR, LSR and fumed silica spaces—made some major investments to increase capacities.
Shin-Etsu, Dow and Elkem all invested millions in capital projects.
In China and India, Wacker went one better, with investments in siloxane monomer production increases.
Monomer production remains a conspicuous domestic absence, as Dow still is the only vertically integrated silicone manufacturer on U.S. shores—meaning Dow can go from quartzite mine to silicone rubber.
And adding to the problem of monopolized production, at least geographically, is the fact that the vast majority of the world's silicon metal refineries are located in China, described by silicone rubber processors as "a wake-up call" and "a national defense issue" for the industry.
Here are four of the biggest news trends in 2022 in silicone.