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Circular 32—Processing perlite—the technologic problems

By R. H. Weber, 1955, reprinted from Mining Engineering, February 1955, 3 pp., 3 figs.

What influence do variations in commercial-grade perlite have upon processes used to prepare a marketable product? The problems are summarized here. Increasing acceptance of perlite products, chiefly in the fields of lightweight structural aggregates and thermal and acoustic insulation, has led to expanding market demands that have encouraged many new producers to enter the field. In some instances, however, the failure of these producers to anticipate the variable response of perlite to conventional processing methods has led to difficulty in establishing an economical flowsheet by which a predictable specification product could be obtained. It is not the writer's intent to provide a solution to these problems, but rather to summarize their nature. It is to be hoped that members of the industry who have hurdled some of these obstacles will document solutions arising from their experience. In this treatment the term perlite will not be restricted to the petrographic definition but will apply to all volcanic glasses. Expansible obsidians and pitchstones are accordingly included in this broader industrial classification. Although perlite has been reported to range in composition from that of rhyolite to that of andesite, it is probable that most of the glasses have the composition of rhyolite. When recalculated to an anhydrous basis, the five analyzed glasses from NM, representing five distinct physical types from widely separated deposits, show an amazingly uniform oxide composition. Water content is the only major compositional variable; total water ranges from a low of 0.37% to a high of 8.95%. The wide range in expansion characteristics exhibited by these samples cannot be related to significant variations in the composition of the nonvolatile fraction and has been only partially correlated with variations in water content.

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