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FERRO-ALLOYS & SILICON > Production processes

Production processes

Ferro-alloys are usually produced by the reduction of a metallic ore (generally oxide)

  • by carbon with the addition of electric energy in a "Submerged Arc Furnace" (smelting process);
  • or by metals (metallo-thermic reduction), usually aluminium or silicon.

Silicon is commonly produced by a "Submerged Arc Furnace". Polycrystalline silicon (PCS), a hyper form of Silicon (99.9999999), is produced for semi-conductors and solar cells by a chlorination process in a special reactor metallurgical-grade silicon followed by a reaction in the presence of hydrogen at high temperatures.

A very pure Silicon metal is also produced by a patented hydrometallurgical process. This process removes the impurities in high silicon by treatment in an iron chloride solution, followed by a further purification process.

Silica Fume is produced during the manufacture of silicon or ferrosilicon. This electro-metallurgical process involves the reduction of quartz. Silica fume is formed when SiO gas is oxidised to SiO2.
Depending on the alloying element, the grade and other economic/technological considerations, the details of the production processes can vary widely.
A comprehensive description of existing processes can be found in the Non-Ferrous Metal BREF Note published by the EU Commission, which is under revision within the new legislative framework of the Industrial Emissions Directive (http://eippcb.jrc.es).

In all cases, the production of Ferro-alloys and Silicon is an energy-intensive activity, and EUROALLIAGES' Members are committed to constantly improving their operations in order to save energy and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions: the European plants are among the most efficient in the world, helping to provide users with the necessary supply of ferro-alloys and Silicon with minimal impact on natural resources.

The European Ferro-alloys and Silicon industry has developed and improved its technology and production processes, not only by  improving the quality of the materials delivered to its customers, but also by improving working conditions and by implementing the best available technologies to reduce environmental impact. This industry provides its employees and consumers with the highest social, safety, environmental and occupational health standards.