Expanded perlite is a mineral product obtained by expansion of raw perlite. Perlite is a siliceous glass-like volcanic mineral. It is hard and brittle and expands up to 20 times its original volume depending upon the mineral source. Raw perlite is milled and expanded by controlled rapid heating, which causes water molecules to escape from the mineral. This causes a popping sound, similar to a popcorn’s pop. Expanded perlite is a chemically inert, non-toxic, and stable material with excellent thermal, audio, and electrical insulation properties. It is primarily utilized in the construction industry for insulation, in the horticulture industry as soil aggregates, and in the beverage industry for food contact filtration applications.
Currently, manufacturers of construction products are major consumers of expanded perlite. Expanded perlite is used as a building block in the manufacture of insulating construction materials. It is also widely used in a variety of insulating applications in the construction industry, including bricks, boulders, cinder blocks, cement mixtures, and structural, thermal, and audio insulation panels. Expanded perlite is very versatile and can be milled differently for specific applications. Construction and horticulture industries are primarily boosting demand for expanded perlite and are anticipated to grow at an above-average rate compared to the global GDP in the next few years. These end-user segments are primarily driven by rising purchase power parity of the world’s population. Additionally, increased demand for expanded perlite in filtration applications due to its inert and non-toxic nature is fueling the global expanded perlite market. Expanded perlite has been proven safe for use in food contact applications. It is widely used in beer breweries worldwide for filtration applications. Expanded perlite’s unique structure aids in filtration of impurities without absorption of any content.
Substitutes act as a key factor restraining the expanded perlite market. Expanded perlite can be substituted by a range of products for all its applications. This is likely to hamper growth of the expanded perlite market in the near future.
In terms of volume, Asia Pacific continued its dominance in the global expanded perlite market, accounting for over 30% share in terms of volume in 2014. Demand for expanded perlite is anticipated to be high in construction products, horticulture, filtration, and personal care applications in Asia Pacific. Asia Pacific is estimated to be the fastest growing market for expanded perlite during the forecast period. This fast-paced growth can be attributed to high growth in the construction industry in the region during the forecast period. North America is projected to expand at a CAGR that is higher than the market average during the forecast period due to recovering construction industry and strong growth in horticulture and oil & gas drilling industries. Construction products and process aids applications are projected to fuel the expanded perlite market in the Middle East and Africa (MEA). Construction industry in GCC is undergoing rapid growth with major construction activities underway in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Dubai. This is likely to raise demand for building materials, consequently increasing demand for expanded perlite in the region.
The global expanded perlite market is fragmented in nature, comprising a few players with global operations. Large-scale producers have vertically integrated operations that offer them cost advantage over smaller players. Key players include Imerys SA, Silbrico Corporation, Aegean Perlites SA, PERLITE-HELLAS, Cornerstone Industrial Minerals Company, The Schundler Company, P.V.P. Industries Inc., Midwest Perlite Inc., and Keltech Energies Ltd.