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Minerals 2016, 6(3), 80; doi:10.3390/min6030080

Microstructural Control on Perlite Expansibility and Geochemical Balance with a Novel Application of Isocon Analysis: An Example from Milos Island Perlite (Greece)

1
Faculty of Science, Physical and Geological Sciences, Jalan Tungku Link, Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Gadong, BE1410 Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam
2
Department of Geology, Section of Earth Materials, University of Patras, 26500 Patras, Greece
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Panagiotis Voudouris
Received: 29 October 2015 / Revised: 26 July 2016 / Accepted: 26 July 2016 / Published: 2 August 2016
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Abstract

Representative perlite bulk rock samples from two areas of Milos Island, Greece were collected and the expansion properties of their industrial product were investigated. Coarse crude perlite from Tsigrado exhibits better expansibility, which is assigned to the presence of coarser crystallites in its bulk parent rock. During thermal treatment, the finer crystallites of the coarse crude perlite from Trachilas are entrapped in the groundmass and lead to overheating, which inhibits expansion and eventually results in shrinkage. Geochemical modification of the expanded perlites relative to their crude precursors were investigated, using the isocon method. Volatilisation of crystalline water is the main factor controlling mass reduction of the expanded perlites. Other elements, during the adequate expansion of the Tsigrado perlite, can be classified into three categories. The elements that participate preferentially in crystals decrease in the expanded material at amounts higher than the total mass loss of the rock, due to their escape controlled mainly by the removal of the crystalline phases. The elements equally participating in crystals and the groundmass show losses equivalent to the total mass loss of the rocks, as they escaped in the crystalline phases and airborne particles from the groundmass during thermal treatment. Decrease of highly incompatible elements, which mostly participate in the groundmass, in the expanded products is less than the total mass loss, as they escaped mainly in the airborne particles. The inadequate expansion and burst of the Trachilas perlite did not allow for a similar categorisation, due to random and unpredictable escape of the elements. We propose the application of this method to an artificial system to predict unexpandable mineral phases in bulk perlite, as well as elements that are most likely to participate in the amorphous perlite phase, which cannot be determined from a regular industrial production line. This graphical method may also predict environmental pollution of the atmosphere from the release of volatile compounds and airborne particles during thermal treatment of perlite or other processes of mineral treatment. View Full-Text
Keywords: perlite; microstructures; isocon analysis; Milos Island perlite; microstructures; isocon analysis; Milos Island
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Tsikouras, B.; Passa, K.-S.; Iliopoulos, I.; Katagas, C. Microstructural Control on Perlite Expansibility and Geochemical Balance with a Novel Application of Isocon Analysis: An Example from Milos Island Perlite (Greece). Minerals 2016, 6, 80.

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