"We are very proud of Elkem's 120 years of history, which demonstrates to our stakeholders that we are in it for the long run. Our colleagues all over the world take a lot of inspiration from our past, but we always remain focused on the future and delivering new and innovative products and services to our customers. We see ourselves not as a 120 years' old company but as 120 years young, and work on continuous improvements every day." - Elkem's CEO Helge Aasen
This January 2024, Elkem is celebrating it's 120 years anniversary, having grown from being an industrial start-up in 1904 into a position in 2024 as one of the world's leading providers of advanced silicon-based materials – critical enablers for the digital and green transitions.
Elkem was founded on 2 January 1904 by Sam Eyde, Knut Tillberg, and Knut and Marcus Wallenberg as "the Norwegian Stock Company for Electrochemical Industry". Today, the company has around 7,300 employees all over the world, delivering revenues of NOK 45.9 billion (2022) and top 5% climate performance (CDP).
"We are very proud of Elkem's 120 years of history, which demonstrates to our stakeholders that we are in it for the long run. Our colleagues all over the world take a lot of inspiration from our past, but we always remain focused on the future and delivering new and innovative products and services to our customers. We see ourselves not as a 120 years' old company but as 120 years young, and work on continuous improvements every day," says Elkem's CEO Helge Aasen.
Even though Elkem has developed significantly since its founding, it has also stayed true to the original business concept which was to build a major industrial company with an international outlook. Research and innovation plays a key role in this: With more than 550 researchers around the world, new products introduced within the past five years now represent more than 20% of Elkem's turnover. This ensures Elkem is well-positioned for megatrends like the green transition and digitalisation.
"The Elkem of 2024 is one of the world's leading providers of advanced silicon-based materials shaping a better and more sustainable future. The company develops silicones, silicon products and carbon solutions by combining natural raw materials, renewable energy and human ingenuity. We help our customers create and improve essential innovations like electric mobility, digital communications, health and personal care as well as smarter and more sustainable cities," says Aasen.
Three key milestones for Elkem in more recent times include the integration of a chemical business in France in 2015, adding a strong culture for specialisation, innovation and R&D; the integration of two plants in China in 2017, adding to the dynamic and agile business perspective and positioning for the Asian market; and being listed again on the Oslo Stock Exchange from 2018, where the company is now also part of the ESG Index featuring the 40 listed companies with the best ESG risk rating.
200 years anniversary of silicon discovery
2024 also marks the 200 years anniversary since silicon was first isolated and described as an element by Jöns Jacob Berzelius, a Swedish chemist. It is the second most abundant chemical element in the earth's crust, just behind oxygen.
Silicon is today best known for its semiconductor characteristics and has been vital in the development of solar energy and electronics, driving digital technology – as highlighted by the name of "Silicon Valley". Some even use the term "the silicon age" to characterise the period from the late 20th century to early 21st century.
Silicon in its elemental form is not found in nature. It is present together with oxygen and other elements in various minerals. Silicon is typically produced from quartz or quartzite (SiO2), with low content of impurities.
Today, around three grams of high-purity silicon produced by Elkem can be found inside most of the world's smartphones. Advanced silicones from Elkem can also be found in more than 2 million electric vehicles around the world. Elkem's silicon has even made an impact beyond this Earth, as part of thermal batteries which have successfully landed the Perseverance rover on Mars.