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General
  • Perlite is an amorphous volcanic glass that has a relatively high water content, typically formed by the hydration of obsidian.
  • It occurs naturally and has the unusual property of greatly expanding when heated sufficiently.
  • Perlite is not a trade name but a generic term for naturally occurring siliceous rock.

Process

  • This expansion is due to the presence of two to six percent combined water in the crude perlite rock.
  • When quickly heated to above 1600F (871C), 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.

Market

  • Annual world production of unexpanded perlite has increased by some 20%.
    Demand for perlite in horticulture continues to grow.
  • Estimated world production of around 3.1Mtpy is believed to represent just 60% of installed production capacity.
  • The decline in construction activity in Western Europe is forecast to have bottomed out and overall demand for perlite to 2010 will now increase at a rate of 2% per year.
  • This forecast growth in Asia and Western Europe will be offset by a likely 0.5%pa decline in demand in the Americas, which currently account for 35% of world total consumption.

Application

  • Perlite used In the construction and manufacturing fields, it is used in lightweight plasters and mortars, insulation, ceiling tiles and filter aids.
  • It is used in horticulture it makes composts more open to air, while still having good water-retention properties.
  • It makes a good medium for hydroponics.
  •  Perlite is also used in foundries, cryogenic insulations, as a lightweight aggregate in mortar (firestop) and in ceramics as a clay additive.

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