C&EN eBook
An indomitable particle: Colloidal silica takes on extreme environments
Brought to you by W. R. Grace & Co.

Colloidal silica is a mainstay for everyday applications such as papermaking, polishing the silicon wafers used to make computer microchips, making nonslip and abrasion-resistant coatings, and soaking up unwanted moisture. But colloidal silica can also stabilize the ground under buildings during earthquakes and stop the spread of toxic pollutants below ground. This versatile nanomaterial not only preserves ancient carvings in the jungle but keeps the lenses and sensors aboard space vehicles clear and clean, and it stands up to the hot, salty environment of petroleum and natural gas wells.

Key Objectives:
  • Colloidal silica shores up soil to keep buildings standing during earthquakes, and it keeps damaging artificial pollutants from spreading underground.
  • In cities and jungles, Colloidal silica protects modern buildings and historical sites from the ravages of nature.
  • In the oilfield, colloidal silica keeps fluids moving in the right direction.
  • Colloidal silica solved a loose tile problem for the Space Shuttle. It's also a key component of coatings that keep space-based lenses and instruments clean. It's being tested for concrete to make 3D printed buildings on Earth, the Moon, and Mars.

Brought to you by:
WR Grace
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