Vermiculite is used in the various fields like construction, agriculture, horticulture, factories and industrial markets that mainly serves for insulation at high temperature, refractory insulation, fire and water proofing for structural steel, pipes and ceilings, acoustic panels and so on.
The mineral undergoes an expansion process called exfoliation on heating. Vermiculite resembles mica in appearance, and it is found very many regions like Australia, Brazil, Uganda, Zimbabwe, china.
On exfoliation, the mineral becomes weightless, incombustible, compressible, less reactive, highly absorbent and compatible. It also possesses the characteristic of retention of water. By mixing the vermiculite ore with various chemicals, on different combination and at various pressures and temperature, it is formed as a new material thus used for very many applications.
The most commonly used applications of vermiculite are
*Lightweight concretes and screeds
*Loose fill refractory and high temperature insulation
*Fire and water proof protection
*Friction and swimming pool liners
Another strangest application of vermiculite is that it is used as an incubating medium for turtle eggs; hence biologists had great success in hatching the eggs of diamondback terrapin turtles. There by they found a new technique to conserve the endangered species.
It is also used to slow down the cooling process when making enamel or glass beads, thus reducing the breakage amount while cooling up the materials rapidly.
Many misconceptions exist about the salvation of vermiculite because of the asbestos contamination in it. Presently, various tests on different deposits have proven that there is no evidence of asbestos in it.
Vermiculite ore is now used by large number of producers; hence it should be used in accordance with the manufacturers Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), thus it must not pose any health risk. These sheets are commonly used to identify the hazards in the associated materials and also provide cautions on proper disposal and safe handling.
It is scientifically proven that vermiculite is not the asbestos. The diseases related to asbestos have not been found in people engaged in the vermiculite deposits. Yet it is better to stay away from the direct or prolonged exposure of the vermiculite.
Thus rather than its non witnessed ill-effects, it is widely used to serve many industrial needs.