ORIGIN AND CHARACTERISTICS
Perlite is not a brand name but a generic term for a naturally occurring siliceous rock. Perlite is distinguishable from other volcanic glasses that, when heat it to a suitable point, expands from four to twenty times its original volume.
This expansion is due to the presence combined water in the crude perlite rock. When quickly heated to above 1600 degrees F (871 degrees C), the crude rock expands in a manner similar to popcorn as the combined water vaporizes and creates countless tiny bubbles that account for the amazing light weight and other exceptional physical properties of expanded perlite. The expanded perlite's most distinguishing characteristic is its white color. While the crude rock may range from transparent light gray to glossy black, the color of expanded perlite ranges from snowy white to grayish white.
Expanded perlite can be manufactured to weigh to as light as 2 pounds per cubic foot (32 kg/m3) making it adaptable for numerous applications. Since perlite is a form of natural glass, it is classified as chemically inert and has a pH of approximately 7.
USES OF PERLITE
As the chart above indicates, there are many uses for perlite. These uses can be broken down into three general categories: construction applications, horti-cultural applications and industrial applications.
Because of perlite's outstanding insulating characteristics and light weight, it is widely used as a loose-fill insulation in masonry construction. In this application, free-flowing perlite loosefill masonry insulation is poured into the cavities of concrete block where it completely fills all cores, crevices, mortar areas and ear holes. In addition to providing thermal insulation, perlite enhances fire ratings, reduces noise transmission and it is rot, vermin and termite resistant Perlite is also ideal for insulating low temperature and cryogenic vessels.
When perlite is used as an aggregate in concrete, a lightweight, fire resistant, insulating concrete is produced that is ideal for roof decks 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.
In horticultural applications, perlite is used as a component of soilless growing mixes as it provides aeration and optimum moisture retention for superior plant growth. For root cuttings, 100% perlite is used. Studies have shown that outstanding yields are achieved with perlite hydroponic systems.
Other benefits of horticultural perlite are its neutral pH and the fact that it is sterile and weed-free. In addition, its light weight makes it ideal for use in container growing.
Other horticultural application of perlite includes as: fertilizer , herbicides and pesticides carriers and for seed pelletizing. Horticultural perlite is as useful to the home gardener as it is to the commercial grower. It is used with equal success in greenhouse growing, land-scaping applications and in the home in house plants.
Industrial applications for perlite are the most diverse, ranging from high performance fillers for plastics to cements 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.
Additional applications include its use as an abrasive in soaps, cleaners and polishes and a variety of foundry applications utilizing perlite's insulating properties and high heat resistance. This same heat resistant property is taken advantage of when perlile is used in the manufacture of refractory bricks, mortars, and pipe insulation.
APPLICATIONS OF PERLITE
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