The mission is clear: at CHT, we want to do our part in making the world more sustainable across all our business units. But those who are familiar with synthesizing silicons know that that’s easier said than done. The manufacturing process consumes a great deal of energy and to build an anorganic silicon framework, using renewable resources as a raw material is out of the question.
The only exception in this case is perhaps bioethanol. Using it, however, leads directly to the next discussion: is it ultimately more useful to use that land to grow food? As if that were not enough, even if one leaves the silicone backbone out of consideration and limits oneself only to the functionalisation, then one needs a double bond at the end of the molecule for this reaction. In nature, and thus in renewable raw materials, the double bonds are always in the middle of the molecules. So what can we do instead?
For us in the silicone sector at CHT that means that we're looking deeply into the issue of recycling. How can we get as much as possible out of these elaborately produced polymers--and only dispose of as little of them as is absolutely necessary? We're running several research projects simultaneously to test which of our previous waste materials we can reuse. Is it possible to obtain new raw materials based on recycling processes from alternative raw material suppliers? And how many of these raw materials can we use in our recipes to guarantee the level of quality our customers count on? Ultimately, if we can really make a difference for the future, we are happy to face up to rise to the challenge and enjoy diving deeply into exploring the potential polymer recycling poses.
We take pride in being able to report our initial successes. We’ve been able to find a way to process some of our by-products and fully recycle them. As a result, one of our largest products already has a recycling rate of about 30%--and we’re sure we’ve yet to exhaust all of options to continue optimizating the process! We’re truly proud of this accomplishment, and that motivates us to continue researching this issue.