More information about Diatomite
Dated back to 20 million years, the creation of diatomite goes back to the Miocene Epoch. At that time, the Sea of Japan was a landlocked body of water. The volcanic activity around the land used to cause thermal springs, making an ideal environment ripe for diatoms growth.
Diatoms, which belong to a large and diverse group of single-celled algae called planktonic, float in the waters of lakes and oceans. Only a few types of diatoms live on the seabed, whereas others drink on the water. Most diatoms are microscopic, but interestingly, a few types are up to 2-mm in length.
The single-celled property makes diatoms unique. They create a silica-composed external wall, called frustules. Not to mention, the cell walls of diatoms have a delicate structure and are very thin. Diatoms live in water less than 30-ft deep, where the sunlight can penetrate through.
They are photosynthetic and require sunlight as a food source. While it is prolific, diatoms produce almost half of the organic mass in the oceans across the world. The small size and abundance of diatoms place them at the bottom of the marine food chain.
The explosive bloom of diatoms diminished water nutrients and blocked the sunlight needed for photosynthesis. As a result, diatoms started to die, yet their remains sink to the seabed. Those remains resulted in another boom, and the cycle continued for years. The repeated cycle of bust formed the abundant layers of diatomaceous earth.
What is Diatomite?
Diatomite is a sedimentary rock comprises of silica. This friable material has low density and high porosity. The crushed or powdered form of diatomite is ‘diatomaceous earth.’ It boasts particle size and has low specific gravity.
All these properties make diatomite a useful as an absorbent, filter media, and a lightweight material for plastics, paints, and rubber.
According to research, the U.S. is the biggest producer and exporter of diatomite. In 2011, the country mined more than 800,000 metric tons of diatomite and exported more than 100,000 metrics tons throughout the world.
Lompoc, the city of California, has the largest deposit of diatomite. In the country, seven different companies produce diatomite at ten separate mining areas in Washington, Oregon, Nevada, and California.
The Uses of Diatomite
The ancient Greeks used the diatomaceous earth to make bricks and blocks. Later in time, it became popular in Europe as in the United States for various industrial uses.
While it is a friable, high porous material, it moves on a conveyor belt through the factory’s long kiln to make it fire-resistant, tighter, and stronger.
A study reveals heating the material improves the absorption properties and surface structure of diatomite greatly.
The heating temperature used is usually lower than 1000 °C. Otherwise, the microporous structure of the material will change. The modified diatomite contains the properties of high porosity and moderate surface roughness.
Some factories in Japan utilized this material to produce charcoal burners. In addition, the filtration markets of the U.S. consumed 67 percent of diatomite mined in 2011. You can use Diatomite as a non-toxic insecticide to kill pests, especially bed bugs.
The material is part of the production of matches. Diatomite provides friction so that the matchstick can ignite, whereas it also slows the speed of ignition to allow the stick to combust.
The insulating properties and excellent absorbency of diatomite make it an ideal material for making heat-resistant bricks, filters, and of course Hibachi Grills.