Critical infrastructure supports the key functions necessary to enhance society, protect our environment, and create a safer and more sustainable future. Numerous industries, including agriculture, communications, defense, energy, health and medicine, technology, and transportation depend upon the performance and reliability of our national infrastructure to enhance virtually every aspect of our lives.
But many agree, our infrastructure needs to be modernized. The chemical industry is key to helping make America’s infrastructure safer and better than before. That’s because our members create advanced materials that go into infrastructure upgrades to help make them more sustainable and resilient, in addition to helping make them lighter, stronger, and more cost effective.
For example, silicones are among the world’s most important and adaptable materials; used in products and applications that can make our infrastructure more stable, more affordable, and longer lasting. These products include a wide range of sealants, adhesives, and protective coatings, are essential for numerous building and construction applications, and are often developed to achieve specific performance functions in each application.
Silicones: Protecting the Transportation Infrastructure
Travel is a key driver of economic development. Silicones are used as sealing agents in roads, railroads, bridges, tunnels, and more. Because the transportation infrastructure is exposed to great stress and is prone to damage from corrosion, silicones help provide protection by enabling strong, durable, and UV resistant seals, even in some of the worst-case environmental conditions. Silicones help improve safety by protecting surfaces from erosion from external environmental conditions and providing better temperature and ageing resistance.
Silicones: Keeping the Lights On
Ensuring the reliability of our energy infrastructure requires long-term stability and performance of the nation’s energy grid. Silicones are used as insulators in underground cables and in transformers for the transmission and distribution of electricity. Silicones can extend the life of underground cables by up to 20 years, helping to avoid more expensive options such as replacement or rejuvenation. In combination with the low flammability and durability of electricity transfers, silicones help protect the reliability and safety of the power supply.
Silicones: Revolutionizing Construction
Silicone materials have revolutionized construction since they were first introduced on the market in the 1960s. Silicones are used extensively to support our infrastructure in building construction and maintenance because of the excellent adhesion they provide to a range of materials, such as concrete, glass, granite, marble, aluminum, steel, and plastics. Building materials made with silicones can resist decay caused by rough weather conditions, moisture, or sunlight. Silicones also help make buildings energy efficient by preventing humidity and hot or cold air from coming through joints and cracks when applied as sealants. These unique properties make silicones essential not only in numerous residential and office buildings but also in bridges, oil rigs, industrial plants, and pipelines. Put simply, millions of buildings and constructions rely on the safety, performance, and reliability of silicones.
Silicones are used across some of the most strenuous and yet some of the most sensitive applications. They can add industrial strength to coatings, sealants, and joints in skyscrapers, bridges, highways, and ocean vessels. And, silicones generally retain these properties over time, so materials can be less susceptible to damage from weathering, aging, temperature or climate fluctuations and normal wear and tear.
Silicones are also a good example of how chemical manufacturing in the U.S. can help rebuild America’s infrastructure.