Applications of Vermiculite
Common applications of Vermiculite include Agriculture, Automotives, Carrier and Bulking Agents, Chemical Packaging, Construction and Concrete, Fire Protection, Horticulture, Industrial, Loose Fill Thermal Insulation, Masonry Insulation, Molten Steel Insulation, Packaging Films, Plasters, Refractory, Speciality Coatings, Swim Pool Liners e.t.c.
Exfoliated vermiculite is free-flowing, soft, non-organic, and absorbent. In the agriculture industry, vermiculite’s absorbency allows for a high volume uptake of appropriate fluid, and therefore a greater yield, all while retaining good handling. Below is a list of uses of vermiculite in agriculture/horticulture.
- Growing medium
- Holds water and nutrients, releases as required
- It is also used as a water retention product for plants.
- Excellent for root cutting.
- Sterility prevents ‘damping off’ during transplanting
Vermiculite acts as a catalyst in animal feed, soaking up a range of essential nutrients, including:
- Feed-grade fats
- Vegetable oils
- Choline chloride
- Amino acids
- And more
It also acts a slow release agent for the active ingredients carried, provides extra roughage, and mixes easily with other materials.
AUTOMOTIVE USES OF EXFOLIATED VERMICULITE (Friction Linings, Gaskets, and Fluid Sealing)
Since the early 1900’s scientists and engineers have sought a unique combination of properties such as reinforcing stability and thermal stability for commercial gasket production. Today, properties derived from exfoliated vermiculite continue to meet the demands of thermal stability, reinforcing properties and the lubricating nature of gasket fields.
Fine Particulate Sized Vermiculite (FPSV)
Fine Particulate Sized Vermiculite (FPSV) and other finer grades of exfoliated vermiculite are used in friction linings for the automotive market. FPSV processed vermiculite is produced by thermal exfoliation in specially designed furnaces at ~1500°F where it expands up to 11 times in volume. The expanded vermiculite is then purified to remove contaminants and further processed to consistently meet particle size and bulk density requirements. FPSV processed vermiculite is used as a functional filler in wet lay gaskets used in automotive, as well as friction materials.
Vermiculite is used for this application because of its:
- Thermal resistance
- Surface characteristics
- Easy of addition to other raw materials
- Acoustic absorption
Both organic and inorganic high-performance materials such as polyimide, aramid, graphite, ceramic, and others have been developed for automotive applications. While each of these materials has merit in commercial automotive, friction lining and gasket applications, no single material has been found to be adequate, and it is common practice to use a multiplicity of substances to develop such products. While vermiculite has a similar structure to exfoliated graphite, it does not oxidize and is therefore very appropriate for automotive applications, including:
- Brake linings
- Clutch discs
- Rubber seals
- Automotive paints and lacquers
MicroLite® Vermiculite Dispersions has been shown to upgrade the heat and fire resistance, increase the abrasion resistance, and enhance the fluid sealing characteristics of many conventional substrates used in fluid sealing applications. Vermiculite dispersions take advantage of vermiculites layer mineral and charge characteristics to produce an inorganic, anisotropic, platy morphology that is particularly suitable in fluid sealing.
Because of the inherent high-temperature stability and oxidation resistance of vermiculite, the gaskets are intrinsically improved over graphite materials. No additional treatments or engineering considerations are needed to mask the oxidation potential. This makes for a user-friendly material that decreases post-manufacture handling.
Major benefits include extreme high-temperature stability, good torque retention, and superior oxidation resistance. It is thought the gaskets will have applicability in a wide range of stringent fluid sealing applications.
Vermiculite as a Carrier and Bulking Agent
Vermiculite is used as a carrier and bulking agent across many industries, thanks to many of its renowned properties, including:
Expanded vermiculite is highly absorbent and capable of wicking fluid and attracting nutrients.
Vermiculite adds mass to a product without the heavy weight of many other bulking agents. This increases ease of application and can help save on transportation and labor costs.
It won’t rot, mold, or decay—essential requirements for carrier and bulking agents.
Uses of Vermiculite as a Carrier and Bulking Agent
This highly absorbent material is often used as a carrier for liquid and solid fertilizers and chemicals. It helps ensure the products are dispersed evenly.
It is used for industrial waste clean-up and packaging for hazardous chemicals.
It is a magnet for nutrients and can enhance animal food products so animals have a more nutrient-dense diet.
Chemical Packaging (Lab Packs and Packaging Materials)
Lab Packs: Take No Risks
When it comes to safety, no risks should be taken, and vermiculite is a safety necessity when packaging hazardous materials. It provides a cushion and is absorbent—essential for shipping the hazardous liquids. The benefits of vermiculite Lab Packs include:
It is lightweight, minimizing shipping costs, and is also clean and non-abrasive
Its free-flowing property makes for quick, easy coverage. This tight coverage minimizes impact and shock.
Naturally absorbent material
Because it is absorbent, it can safely retain accident leaks.
It is non-flammable and does not emit fumes or odors.
Non-Reactive and inorganic
Vermiculite is a naturally occurring and completely inert mineral, eliminating problems that occur in other forms of packaging materials. It will not react with most common chemicals, ensuring possible leaks will be contained and safe during transport. When properly packed,
Exfoliate vermiculite can also be used to protect fragile objects. It is easily poured around irregularly shaped objects—hazardous and harmless alike—and provides a cushion against shock during handling and transportation.
It’s useful for packaging because of its unique qualities:
- Highly absorbent
- Does not emit fumes or odors
- Easy to use
- Sturdy, yet soft
What makes our packing vermiculite different
Our packing vermiculite has fine particles that fill the tiny crevices many larger vermiculite ores miss. This means your items are more secure and less susceptible to damage.
Construction and Concrete
There are numerous qualities that make vermiculite incredibly valuable in the construction industry, including:
- Does not emit toxic fumes
- Does not attract pests/rodents
- Does not deteriorate or decompose
Thanks to these attributes, vermiculite uses are vast.
Insulating and lightweight properties allow for applications in:
- Loose fill insulation in masonry construction and attics
- Loose fill in hollow cavities reduces noise transmission
- Lightweight aggregate for fire insulation concretes
- Manufacture of passive fire protection products
- Fire resistant building boards
- Chimney Lining
Boards containing exfoliated vermiculite are often used to protect building elements from the effects of cellulosic fires. It is used as a core in firedoors, to build fire barriers, to encase or construct ductwork, and to protect steel building elements.
Potassium silicate or sodium silicate bound boards
When produced with the addition of vermiculite, these boards can withstand service temperatures of up to 1150C and are frequently used as backup insulation behind the carbon cathode in the potcells.
This process can be also used to manufacture acoustic panels to reduce reverberation time.
Exfoliated vermiculite is used in both hand- and spray-applied general building plasters to improve coverage, ease of handling, adhesion to a wide variety of substrates, fire resistance, and resistance to chipping/cracking/shrinkage.
Acoustic- and fire-protection products often use vermiculite combined with a binder such as gypsum, portland cement, or (more rarely) an air setting clay, plus fillers and rheological aids.
Lightweight concrete roofs and floors
Finer grades of exfoliated vermiculite can be added at site to portland cement and other aggregates for roof and floor concrete applications or lightweight concrete, with the intention of imparting the benefit of being lightweight and insulating.
Loose-fill insulation uses
It is heat-resistant, inert, inorganic, lightweight, and absorbent, making it an excellent loose fill insulation that protects against heat, sound, and moisture.
Raise the Roof with Vermiculite
Concrete roofs containing vermiculite are often used in conjunction with other insulation materials such as polystyrene board to form a total roofing system. When combined with a bituminous binder, vermiculite can help create a lightweight roof which has the advantages of low thermal conductivity, low moisture content, and easy placement by pouring directly from the bag and then tamping.
Rest Assured with Vermiculite
Vermiculite’s fireproofing characteristics are recognized nationally by offices of local building officials, state rating bureaus, and insurance companies. Underwriters’ Laboratories, a global independent safety science company with more than a century of expertise in innovating safety solutions, have assigned up to 4-Hour ratings to room and deck systems that employ vermiculite as one of the components.
And they are made to last—concrete roofs made using vermiculite may be guaranteed by the applicator for up to 50 years!
Vermiculite is used to impart a high degree of fire protection in many industrial and construction applications. Its low density and impressive insulation properties make it useful in:
- Building boards
- Fire door cores
- Encased ductwork
- Steel building elements
- Gypsum plasterboard
- Cementitious spray
If it can’t stand the heat…add vermiculite!
Because vermiculite platelets are inorganic, vermiculite can be used as a high-temperature coating, binder, or filler in construction materials, gaskets, specialty papers, and high-temperature textiles. It can impart fire-resistance and upgrade the service temperature of the end product.
Coatings of vermiculite on fiberglass textiles have been shown to increase the service temperatures up to 1100C. These materials have found use in applications including safety fabrics, safety clothing, and thermal insulation.
Vermiculite is an efficient growing aid commonly used in the horticulture industry. It acts as a magnet for nutrients and is revered for its ability to improve soil, resulting in a better crop.
Horticultural Vermiculite benefits include:
- Improved aeration
- Moisture retention
- Faster root growth
- Retains nutrients
- Permanent, clean, and odorless
- Will not turn moldy or rot
There are many ways vermiculite is used to encourage successful planting and growing.
Vermiculite acts as a magnet for nutrients like potassium, calcium, and magnesium, making it a valuable and time-saving addition to passive hydroponics systems.
Exfoliated vermiculite improves soil aeration while retaining moisture and nutrients to feed roots, cuttings, and seeds for fast growth. It is also useful for houseplants that may be more prone to soil compaction.
Carrier and Bulking Agents
It is a lightweight and efficient bulking agent for fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides, ensuring even distribution.
Summer or Winter Mulch
Mixing vermiculite in with mulch can help retain moisture and insulate plant roots.
Vermiculite can be added to water in vases to preserve flowers for a longer time than water alone.
Vermiculite’s numerous properties make it valuable for industrial uses:
Finder grades of exfoliated vermiculite are used in friction linings, primarily for the automotive market. It is used for this purpose because of its thermal resistance, ease of adding to other raw materials, and its shape and surface characteristics.
Finer grades of vermiculite are used in the production of insulation, often mixed with sodium or potassium silicate.
Hot Topping in the Steel Industry
Vermiculite concentrate exfoliates immediately when poured onto hot metal to form an insulating layer that keeps the material hotter longer.
Vermiculite is used as an additive in Portland cement and used as a sealant in underground mines to prevent the ingress of methane, which might explode.
Paints, Sealants, Plastics, and Mastics
Finely ground vermiculite is added to improve their flame retardancy and enhance performance in areas where there is an excessive amount of ultraviolet light.
Refractory Gunning and Castable Mixes
Calcium aluminate cements and exfoliated vermiculite can be combined to produce refractory concretes and mortars.
Vermiculite dispersions, like MicroLite, are used in high-temperature coatings or binders for construction materials.
Well Drilling Materials
Vermiculite concentrate is used as a “lost circulation material” in drilling muds to prevent downhole pressure losses during well drilling and completion activities.
Loose Fill Thermal Insulation
Vermiculite is ideal for loose fill insulation, protecting against heat, sound, and moisture.
It is heat-resistant, inert, inorganic, lightweight, and absorbent—all necessary attributes when creating an insulative product. Vermiculite is so useful and proven, and it has been a staple insulation in attics, lofts, walls, and high-temperature industrial applications for over half a century.
Also, it is one of the easiest products to apply; it just needs to be poured between joints and then leveled. It’s even ideal for filling odd-shaped spaces that require insulation.
Masonry Insulation (Insulate Masonry Wall Cores or Cavities)
Masonry Insulation is free-flowing vermiculite used to insulate masonry wall cores or cavities.
It is lightweight, free-flowing, inorganic, and specially treated for water repellency. In addition, it increases the fire resistance rating and sound transmission classification of the wall system. Specially treated Masonry Insulation even eliminates moisture condensation.
No Time? No Problem
Masonry Insulation may be stored indefinitely. Plus, when installed with manufacturer’s recommendations, it does not require maintenance.
Molten Steel Insulation (An Insulating Blanket that Reduces Heat Loss)
Molten Steel Insulation vermiculite expands when placed as a cover on molten metal, creating an insulating blanket, reducing heat loss.
Vermiculite is chemically inert, inorganic, and will not create smoke when heated. Molten Steel Insulation features specially sized and packaged vermiculite made just for use by the molten metals industry.
It’s Easy and Consistent—the Ideal Combination
Simply throw the bag onto the metal, and Metal Steel Insulation expands and spreads upon contact to provide insulating coverage. Because it is coarser when it expands, Molten Steel Insulation is less dusty than finer powder insulations.
You’ll know what to expect each time you use it; it is uniform in size for even flow characteristics and has repeatable chemistry from batch to batch.
And you don’t have to think twice about the bag—it is made of polyethylene and disintegrates upon contact with the molten metal.
Vermiculite packaging films are essential in numerous industries, and many consumers come in contact with a product enhanced with them every day.
Most often, this contact is in their kitchen, as vermiculite packaging films are frequently used as one of many layers of food packaging for a fresher product. It works because the vermiculite layer is electrically charged to keep oxygen from getting inside the bag. The dispersed platelets in this very thin layer create an impassable path for gas molecules.
Benefits of Vermiculite Packaging Films
It is a significantly better gas barrier compared to competing clear barrier materials, like polyvinylidene chloride (PVdC) and ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH).
When compared to other barrier methods, it has better moisture resistance and is not prone to flex-cracking. Plus, it is not corrosive.
Vermiculite can be applied at different thicknesses to create different levels of gas barriers. This enables to it meet requirements of many packaging application.
Vermiculite packaging fills tend to be less expensive than alternative methods.
Vermiculite packaging provides better gas barriers with less material than other barrier methods. Plus, the coatings dissolve in landfills and do not inhibit the biodegradability of compostable packaging.
Exfoliated vermiculite is used in both hand- and spray-applied general building plasters to improve coverage, ease of handling, adhesion to a wide variety of substrates. It also increases resistance to fire, chipping, cracking, and shrinkage.
Proprietary and site mixed plasters can be applied to a variety of substrates including concrete, blockwork, expanded metal lath, and other plasters or renders.
Exfoliated vermiculite can also be combined with other aggregates, such as perlite, in plaster formulations.
Refractory (Vermiculite for heat resistance)
Exfoliated vermiculite is used to impart heat resistance in products, often in the industrial industry.
When used for refractory purposes, the vermiculite is typically finer grade combined with sodium or potassium silicate. It is used to enhance:
- Night storage heaters
- Ceramic cooker hobs
- Building boards
- High temperature/lightweight bricks
- And more
When producing silicate-bound building boards, extra attention has to be paid to the dimensional stability of the shape. In many cases, these building boards have holes and penetrations to accept mounting brackets and fixing screws, which have to be very carefully placed.
The vermiculite refractory mixes are normally applied by mixing with the appropriate amount of water in a paddle mixer with rubber tipped blades.
Specialty coatings containing vermiculite are made from dispersions after the mineral has been finely delaminated, either chemically or physically. Vermiculite dispersions are used in high-temperature coatings or binders for:
- Construction materials
- Weld curtains
- Specialty papers/textiles
- Oxidation resistant coatings on carbon composites
- As barrier coatings for films
When combined with other fillers, milled exfoliated vermiculite and a ‘paint type’ binder can be used as a wet spray-applied anti-drumming compound. These products are used extensively to dampen the vibration of architectural panels, like those used in curtain wall construction or as claddings in railway stations and tunnels.
Swimming Pool Liners
(Double or triple the lifetime of your vinyl pool with vermiculite swim pool liners)
When combined with portland cement, finer grades of exfoliated vermiculite provide a base for swimming pool vinyl liners. This combination is used extensively in North America to stop the migration of stones which might puncture the vinyl liner, plus it accommodates movements in the water table. The use of vermiculite creates a smooth, soft, durable pool surface.
Why use Vermiculite in a Pool Liner Base?
Pool installers, property owners and pool owners everywhere can immediately tell the difference between pool liner base mixtures without Vermiculite versus those that are installed with Specialty Vermiculite’s Concrete Pool Base Aggregate. The obvious and clear differences are the ones you feel: swimmers all over the world will notice a tough, dry pool liner without vermiculite. And as a result of the hard liner, swimmers often come in contact with blisters and sores on their feet. When Specialty Vermiculite’s Concrete Pool Base Aggregate is a used as a precision-mixed blend, pool installers can almost guarantee property owners and pool owners will experience a textured, smooth surface finish. Outside of the easy installation and non-abrasive advantages, pool installers don’t have to worry about the ongoing liner maintenance compared to pools installed with packed sand or sand concrete bases which are subject to breaking.