Vermiculite for Personal Protective Equipment

Vermiculite for Personal Protective Equipment

There are many fields that require personal protective equipment, from healthcare to public safety and welding to manufacturing. Vermiculite is an essential component of a variety of applications, including high-temperature gloves, proximity suits, and aluminized clothing. It is used to impart fire resistance to these products and keep users safe. Read on to learn about how vermiculite is used to improve personal protective equipment and improve workplace safety.

Vermiculite for Personal Protective Equipment

Vermiculite dispersions represent stable suspensions of vermiculite in water, achieved through the chemical exfoliation of vermiculite—a naturally occurring magnesium aluminum-silicate mineral. This material exhibits remarkable high-temperature resistance, withstanding temperatures of up to 1400°C.

High-Temperature Gloves

Vermiculite dispersions can be used when manufacturing high-temperature gloves. For example, The 200 Series Gloves are constructed from . This fabric is woven from highly texturized continuous filament fiberglass yarn and treated with a proprietary vermiculite coating. The high-temperature coating causes heat to disperse evenly across the surface of the fiberglass fabric, significantly boosting its resistance to high temperatures and abrasion.

Vermiculite dispersions play a crucial role in the fabrication of high-temperature gloves. For example, the 200 Series ZetexPlus Gloves are meticulously crafted using ZetexPlus Vermiculite Coated Fiberglass Fabric. This fabric is intricately woven from highly texturized continuous filament fiberglass yarn and treated with an exclusive vermiculite coating. This specialized high-temperature coating ensures even heat distribution across the surface of the fiberglass fabric, significantly amplifying its resilience to high temperatures and abrasion. Temperature thresholds include:

  • Operating temperatures up to 1500°F / 815°C
  • Peak temperatures up to 2000°F
  • Extended direct contact with temperatures around 2000°F may damage the ZetexPlus Gloves, but the user will be protected from high temperatures around 1500°F / 815°C for a longer duration.

Note: These temperature ratings are dependent on the environment and application in which the heat-resistant gloves are being used. The temperature rating might be different for your application.

Proximity Suits

Fire-resistant personal protective equipment (PPE) proves invaluable for workers across various sectors. Specifically crafted for external rescue missions and fire scenarios involving elevated temperatures within the manufacturer’s designated operational limits, proximity suits are a prime example. However, the need for such protective gear extends to diverse industries, encompassing public safety, oil and gas, welding, manufacturing, mining, and electrical sectors. Some common needs for heat-resistant equipment include:

  • Flammable liquids or flammable soils that may land on garments
  • Contact with or close proximity to molten metals
  • Potential contact with sparks from flame cutting or welding
  • Contact with open flames
  • High-energy electrical discharges
  • Explosion of volatile liquid or flammable gas vapors
  • Ignition of combustible dust

It is the employer’s job to ensure employees have the correct heat-resistant personal protection equipment. There are three basic types of protective suits: approach suits, proximity suits, and entry suits. The temperature threshold increases with each suit. For example, proximity suits are used for aircraft rescue firefighting teams. The maximum ambient heat protection is about 500°F. Entry suits are suitable for the highest temperatures. As the name suggests, they are used for entry into extreme heat and situations requiring protection from total flame engulfment. They are most commonly made of Zetex or Vermiculite. Maximum ambient heat protection is about 2,000°F for short duration and prolonged radiant heat up to 1,500°F.

Aluminized Clothing

Ensuring employees are equipped with the appropriate heat-resistant personal protective equipment falls under the responsibility of the employer. Three fundamental types of protective suits are available: approach suits, proximity suits, and entry suits, each offering varying levels of temperature resistance.

For instance, proximity suits find application in aircraft rescue firefighting teams, providing a maximum ambient heat protection of approximately 500°F. On the other hand, entry suits, designed for extreme heat scenarios requiring protection from total flame engulfment, are typically constructed from materials like Zetex or Vermiculite. These suits offer a maximum ambient heat protection of about 2,000°F for short durations and prolonged radiant heat up to 1,500°F.

Frequent applications include:

  • Jackets
  • Aprons
  • Sleeves
  • Hoods
  • Pants
  • Boots
  • Boot covers

The vermiculite coating causes heat to travel along the fabric, not through it to the wearer.

About MicroLite Vermiculite Dispersions

MicroLite vermiculite dispersions are produced by the chemical exfoliation of vermiculite. This mineral product is available as both a free-flowing dry powder and as aqueous colloidal dispersions.

These vermiculite dispersions are highly heat- and flame-resistant and produce virtually no off-gassing or smoke. In addition, these products are salt-free, and therefore are ideal for use in end products where corrosion is a concern. MicroLite’s easy application and our proprietary binders allow for direct application on fabrics and other industrial materials to provide a fire-rated material.

For many applications, the coatings are wholly inorganic and will not release any harmful vapors or fumes on exposure to heat or flame. In some applications, products with a small amount of nonhalogen containing organic additive are used to improve specific end-use textile properties such as flexibility, and resistance to abrasion and fraying. All products provide comparable fire resistance improvements when used in accordance with the recommendations of Specialty Vermiculite Corp.

MicroLite Products for Personal Protective Equipment

The MicroLite water-based coating product line consists of seven different products each designed to offer specific benefits to the end-user. Two options for enhancing personal protective equipment include:

MicroLite HTS – 100% inorganic dispersion with 15% solids and viscosity of 4000 – 9000 cps. The higher solids provide greater add-on and make this product attractive for use as a coating to upgrade the heat and fire resistance of many materials.

MicroLite 923 – a refined dispersion with higher purity than 903 and HTS at 7.5% solids and a typical viscosity of 200 – 700 cps. Its finer particle size and reduced “grit” results in improved barrier properties and tensile strength. Intended for use in high-performance applications where properties other than or in addition to increased service temperature are desired.

See the Difference Vermiculite Makes for Personal Protective Equipment

Our knowledgeable team is standing by, ready to help you discover how MicroLite vermiculite dispersions can be used to improve your fire-rated products. Applications go beyond personal protective equipment, including an oxidation-resistant coating on carbon-based composites, high-temperature binder, and barrier materials, protective coating or sizing for glass fibers, and paints and coatings.

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