Applications of Perlite

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.

 

Construction Applications

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. 

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Horticultural Applications

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.

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Industrial Applications

Industrial applications for perlite are the most diverse, ranging from high performance fillers for plastics to cement for petroleum, water and geothermal wells. In foundry applications, at molten metal temperatures the perlite granules expand and form a low density, high volume crust which mops up the slag, which can be lifted off the metal with ease leaving behind a clean surface.

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Filtration Applications

Lightweight expanded perlite bubble structures are milled and classified using strictly defined processes to produce perlite filter aids with specific flow characteristics. The various grades utilize the jagged interlocking structures to create billions of microscopic channels between the filter aid particles to produce optimum flow rates and clarification abilities for a wide variety of applications.

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Insulation Applications

After expansion, the physical transformation makes expanded perlite an extremely efficient, low density insulator. Main uses of expanded perlite as insulation material are cryogenic insulation and high temperature insulation applications.

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