AskDefine | Define perlite

User Contributed Dictionary



From perle + -ite


  1. An amorphous volcanic glass formed by the hydration of obsidian
  2. The lightweight insulating material and aggregate resulting from expanding the glass by heat.

Extensive Definition

For the two-phased structure in steel see pearlite.
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.

Properties and uses

When it reaches temperatures of 850–900 °C, perlite softens (since it is a glass). Water trapped in the structure of the material vapourises and escapes and this causes the expansion of the material to 7–16 times its original volume. The expanded material is a brilliant white, due to the reflectivity of the trapped bubbles. Unexpanded ("raw") perlite bulk density: around 1100 kg/m³ (1.1 g/cm³). Typical expanded perlite bulk density: 30–150 kg/m³
Due to its low density and relatively low price, many commercial applications for perlite have developed. In the construction and manufacturing fields, it is used in lightweight plasters and mortars, insulation, ceiling tiles and filter aids. 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.

Typical analysis of perlite

Production trends

In 2005, Greece was the top producer of perlite with at least one-third world share followed by China, USA, Japan and Turkey.
In 2001 the cost of perlite was about US$36.31 per metric ton. The yearend price for mined perlite in the US has increased since then:
2001.....$36.3 per metric ton
2002.....$36.5 per metric ton
2003.....$38.2 per metric ton
2004.....$40.6 per metric ton
2005.....$42.5 per metric ton

See also


perlite in Czech: Perlit
perlite in German: Perlit (Gestein)
perlite in Modern Greek (1453-): Περλίτης
perlite in Hebrew: פרלייט
perlite in Hungarian: Perlit (kőzet)
perlite in Dutch: Perliet (mineraal)
perlite in Japanese: パーライト (岩石)
perlite in Portuguese: Perlite (geologia)
perlite in Spanish: Perlita (geología)
perlite in Finnish: Perliitti
perlite in Swedish: Perlit
perlite in Chinese: 珍珠岩
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