Flexibility of Silicones Enables Building Designs to become Reality

As buildings become increasingly sophisticated with innovative designs, shapes and sizes, they must also meet technical performance demands of withstanding every day environmental forces and natural or man-made disasters, as well as increasing needs for energy efficiency.

"Silicone materials help architects and engineers meet environmental and societal needs in contemporary buildings," said Gerald Bräuer, Application Engineer and Technical Service, from Dow Corning, one of the world's largest silicon-based materials developers and manufacturers, at the Dubai Coating Show.

"Our ability to address the Green Building trend is aligned to our ability to increase the life span of construction materials and thereby lowering life cycle costs, as well as our ability to offer more environmentally friendly offerings (solventless, and higher solids content) to achieve similar benefits," said Mr. Bräuer during his presentation on building materials protection.

Most recently, Dow Corning's silicone construction materials were used in the construction of the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Dow Corning worked closely with the building's structural engineers to ensure the building can withstand the region's high winds and extreme heat, some of the biggest challenges construction projects in the region.

Silicone's unique properties make them ideal for construction industry due to their ability to function in limitless ways and with a variety of different building materials.

Resistance to heat, wind, moisture & chemicals - Every day, buildings are subjected to a wide range of external environmental forces, such as high wind velocities, temperature variations, or acid rain that can create wear and tear to the structure and have a significant toll on the aesthetics and durability of the building over time. Silicone sealants are able to withstand these negative effects.

Ability to bond to a variety of materials - Silicones produce airtight seals that not only preserve the thermal insulation of a building, but also are capable of being used with a wide range of other building substrates such as concrete, glass, granite, marble, aluminum, steel, and plastics. This prevents rust, corrosion, or negative effects that result when mixing different building substrates that aren't compatible and can significantly hinder the long-term weatherability of a structure. It also results in long term savings, reducing building costs associated with maintaining and repairing structures.

Greater design flexibility - Silicones are flexible and versatile, which is critical when it comes to meeting impact-resistant glazing standards required in commercial window applications where silicone is used to fasten large expanses of glass to the window system. Structurally bonded windows constructed from silicone sealants are able to transfer high wind and pressure loads from the frame to the glass while accommodating movement between the frame and glass. This enhances the structural strength of the window and also allows for more sleek and modern designs that have expanded the vision and design capabilities of architects.

The applications of silicon-based materials are diverse. They are used in nearly every industry and are oftentimes used to make products or processes more efficient of sustainable. Silicon technology enables sealants and adhesives that enable aesthetically beautiful and environmentally sustainable construction of buildings, roads and infrastructure. In textile manufacturing, silicon-based materials are used to improve process efficiency and product quality. In the oil and gas industry, these materials help on- and off-shore drillers cut costs, increase reliability, and boost output.

Dow Corning recently established its Middle East headquarters and commercial entity in Manama, Bahrain. The company's Bahrain operations will help Dow Corning provide the region's vibrant construction, textiles, petrochemical and oil and gas industries with silicon-based materials and solutions.

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