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Perlite products are made from an amorphous alumino-silicate rock, which has some very special properties: it contains water, which expands into steam on heating, producing a foamed structure. The type of foaming depends very much on the hardness of the particular perlite ore, and the initial concentration of water. Only a few, select deposits have the correct characteristics for expansion.
Imerys Filtration owns and operates several perlite ore mines throughout the world, including major deposits in western Turkey, USA and South America which is used to feed dedicated perlite expansion plants throughout Europe and the rest of the world. The mines have been selected because of the natural purity of the ore seams found in these respective deposits.
Markets for Perlite
As well as utilising the perlite ore itself, Imerys sells the quality ore product for customers who wish to expand perlite themselves for a variety of applications.
As well as a range of particle sizes, the nature of the ore can be varied, depending on whether the final product is to be a EUP (Expanded Unmilled Perlite) or EMP (Expanded Milled Perlite).
The unusual combination of foamed structure and inertness offer many diverse applications for this unique product. With high resistance to compression and low levels of fines that minimise dust, Imerys produces a range of particle sizes,
1mm diameter and above - cryogenic insulation and hydroponics,
Less than 1mm - lightweight aggregates and textured coatings.
Much of the production of EMP is dedicated to the purposes of filtration. The combination of the inert silica composition and the ragged structure offer remarkable properties for the filtration of liquids that are heavily charged in suspended solids, such as sugar syrups and alginate.
Although not possessing the clarifying power of diatomaceous earth, perlite filter aids, are far lighter in density and make ideal precoats for filters prior to the addition of diatomaceous earth as the main filtration aid.
On their own, perlite filter aids offer much better capacity than diatomaceous earth to retain large quantities of suspended solids without blocking the filter.
There are many uses for perlite.
Because of perlite's outstanding insulating characteristics and light weight, it is widely used as loose-fill insulation in masonry construction. In this application, free-flowing perlite is poured into the cavities of concrete block where it completely fills all crevices. In addition to providing thermal insulation, perlite enhances fire ratings, reduces noise transmission and it is rot, vermin and termite resistant.
When perlite is used as an aggregate in concrete, a lightweight, fire resistant, insulating concrete is produced that is ideal for roof terraces and other applications. Perlite can also be used as an aggregate in Portland cement and gypsum plasters for exterior applications and for the fire protection of beams and columns. Other construction applications include under-floor insulation, chimney linings, paint texturing, gypsum boards, ceiling tiles, and roof insulation boards.
Perlite is used throughout the world as a component of soil-less growing mixes where it provides aeration and optimum moisture retention for superior plant growth. Studies have shown that outstanding yields are achieved with perlite hydroponics systems. Other benefits of horticultural perlite are its neutral PH and the fact that it is sterile and weed-free.
Industrial applications for perlite are the most diverse, ranging from high performance fillers for plastics to cement for petroleum, water and geothermal wells. Other applications include its use as a filter media for pharmaceuticals, food products, chemicals and water for municipal systems and swimming pools.
Personal Care Applications
The natural properties and composition of perlite has been specifically engineered to meet the needs of the personal care industry. The careful processing of perlite results in soft, fine particles suitable for use in a variety of personal care products. Imerys perlite can be specifically designed for formulations where high purity, excellent matting effect, and high absorption are desired.
Additional applications include its use as an abrasive in soaps, cleaners, toothpaste and polishes; and a variety of foundry applications utilising perlite's insulating properties and high heat resistance.
Perlite is a generic term for naturally occurring siliceous rock. It is distinguished from other volcanic glasses, when heated to a suitable point in its softening range, it expands from four to twenty times its original volume. This expansion is due to the presence of two to six percent combined water in the crude perlite rock. When quickly heated to above 871°C (1600°F), the crude rock pops in a manner similar to popcorn as the combined water vaporizes and creates countless tiny bubbles which account for the amazing light weight and other exceptional physical properties of expanded perlite
This expansion process also creates one of perlite's most distinguishing characteristics: its white colour. While the crude rock may range from transparent light gray to glossy black, the colour of expanded perlite ranges from snowy white to grayish white.
|Particle Size: (µm)||10 - 5000|
|Typical MOH Hardness:||5 - 6|
|Moisture: (max)||< 1|
Product Related Literature
Imerys Perlite Brochure [1.95MB]