The name perlite (also spelled pearlite) comes from the French word perle which means pearl, in reference to the “pearly” luster of classic perlite.
Unfortunately there is limited information about perlite production and consumption in the world. However, it is still accurate to say that the United States is one of the world’s largest producers and consumers of crude perlite and expanded perlite. Other countries that are believed to produce large amounts of crude and expanded perlite include China, Greece, Italy, Philippines, Mexico, and Turkey. Even though the United States has large resources of perlite, most is still imported, with nearly all imported from Greece.
The majority of perlite is used in construction products, mainly ceiling tiles and roof insulation products, but also as refractory bricks (a refractory brick is a brick designed to withstand very high temperatures), pipe insulation, and filling in masonry block construction. For example, loose perlite is poured into holes in concrete blocks after they are laid in place to improve the insulating quality of the construction. Perlite is also used as an insulator in other ways in the construction of buildings. It reduces noise and, since it is non-combustible, it also improves the fire resistance of different construction components in buildings.
Perlite is an important commodity in the horticulture industry where it is mixed with soil. The addition of perlite to soil increases the amount of air (i.e., oxygen) held in the soil, as well as the amount of water retained by the soil. This obviously improves the growing conditions for plants. This represents approximately 10% of annual perlite consumption.
Perlite is also used in a variety of different applications. For example, it is used as a filter for pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and beverages, and as a filler in the production of plastics and cements.
Perlite is a type of volcanic glass that expands and becomes porous when it is heated. When heated, it can expand to as much as twenty times its original volume. This expansion is the result of heated water: when the glassy lava rock is heated to 1600 degrees F (871 degrees C), the water molecules trapped in the rock turn into vapor which causes the rock to expand. (This is the same principle as the water in pop corn that causes the kernel to pop when it is heated.) Before it is expanded, perlite is commonly gray, but can also be green, brown, blue or red. After it has been heated, perlite is typically light gray to white.
Perlite is known in industry in two forms. Crude perlite is prepared by the crushing and screening of perlite into various size fractions. Expanded perlite is perlite after it has been heated.
The company has its own railway siding on a distance of 2 km. from Paravan railway station (on 101 km. of Marabda-Akhalkalaki railway). The quarry is opened on a distance of 1 km. from railway siding. The extracted perlite is transported to the trunk-railway with help of motor transport. The raw material is transported from storehouse to perlite processing factory in Tbilisi with help of railway transport. Perlite processing technology consists of crushing-drying-screening-packing up operations. The final goods are delivered to users from Georgia Black Sea's seaport Poti with help of railway, motor and sea transport.