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Vermiculite
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Flakes of raw vermiculite concentrate are micaceous in appearance and contain interlayer water in their structure. When the flakes are heated rapidly at a temperature above 870° C, the water flashes into steam, and the flakes expand into accordionlike particles. This process is called exfoliation, or expansion, and the resulting lightweight material is chemically inert, fire resistant, and odorless. In lightweight plaster and concrete, vermiculite provides good thermal insulation. Vermiculite can absorb such liquids as fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides, which can then be transported as free-flowing solids.

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URL: http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/commodity/vermiculite/index.html
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Page Last Modified: Friday, 12-Sep-2014 11:08:24 EDT