The industrial application of ultra-pure Quartz is used in contemporary high-tech applications such as electronic industry, optical fibres, silicon cells for photovoltaic systems and semiconductors. Silicon metal is produced from lumpy silica (Quartz) (SiO2) that is carbo-thermically reduced in arc-furnaces at high temperatures. The feedstock must be exceptionally high in purity and low in alkalis (especially potassium). The three principal uses of silicon metal are in the metallurgical, chemical and electronics industries. Silicon is a common additive in aluminium casting alloys, as it enhances fluidity, increases resistance to hot-cracking and improves pressure tightness.
Silicon metal is also used to produce silane chemicals from which more than 1 000 silicone resins, lubricants, anti-foaming agents, plastomers and water-repellent compounds are derived. Electronic applications and specialty applications include photovoltaic cells for solar energy conversion and semiconductors, superconductors and integrated circuit technologies (silicon chips). The semiconductor and chemicals industry have shown significant growth with silicon metal consumption increasing at an annual rate of 5-8%.