Derived from the remains of microscopic fossilized sea or freshwater algaes, diatomite is a naturally occurring, versatile mineral used in an array of applications from cosmetics to filtration.
Diatomite is a sedimentary rock composed of the fossilized skeletal remains of single-cell aquatic algaes known as ‘diatoms’. This unique form of silica has an elaborate honeycomb structure, peppered with thousands of tiny holes ranging from a few microns to submicron diameters. No other silica source, be it mined or artificially produced, presents such a structure. Some diatomite deposits are saltwater but most are from freshwater sources.
When ground, this profusion of shapes results in an extremely low density powder known as ‘diatomaceous earth’ (DE) which has excellent absorption properties that are highly prized for filtration, agriculture, paints, plastics, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals applications—to name a few.
The diatomite site in Lompoc, California.
The principal constituent of diatomite is silica, with the chemical formula SiO2.
Imerys operates diatomite deposits and processing algaes in the US, Mexico, Chile, Peru, France, Spain and China, including one of the planet’s largest worked diatomite mines, and only marine deposit, in Lompoc, California.
Imerys is the world leader in diatomite production. We carefully engineer our products to provide sustainable diatomite-based solutions that meet the specific needs of a wide range of industries and applications.
In the food and beverage industry, Imerys diatomaceous earth (DE) grades are natural, ecofriendly filter aids and process enablers for the production of beer, fruit juices, sweeteners and edible oils.
Imerys DE adsorbents are invaluable, cost-effective refining and purification aids in sustainable biodiesel fuels, derived from waste-oils.
Imerys DE is being used in the production of a low-cost, high performance gravity water filtration device that provides populations in developing countries with access to potable water and reduces the spread of disease, particularly during disaster relief campaigns.
Imerys natural DE-based, non-chemical, mechanical insecticides can play an important role in combating malaria in tropical zones. They are excellent substitutes for chemical insecticides and present no risk of insect resistance.
In agriculture, Imerys DE grades are effective anti-caking agents in fertilizers and excellent inert carriers for animal feed and pesticides.
In cosmetics, ultra-absorbent diatomite-based powders are ideal 100% natural ingredients in deodorants and antiperspirants. Used in face masks, diatomite significantly reduces the drying time of the clay.
In paints and coatings, diatomaceous earth is an excellent matting agent, providing burnish and scrub resistance, breathability and anti-cracking performance.
In plastic films, Imerys DE grades are effective anti-blocking additives which prevent films sticking together during production, converting and end use.
Imerys also harnesses the specific properties of diatomite to serve construction, pharmaceutical, plastics, rubber, polish and oil spill applications.
At Imerys we will pursue our efforts to find diatomite-based innovations that contribute to tackling key issues facing modern society such as disease prevention, sustainable energy, and natural ingredients for life science markets and agriculture.
For years, virgin oils have been the in-demand ingredient in biofuels to help meet sustainability goals. Improved filtration techniques, thanks to minerals such as diatomite, mean even the most heavily contaminated waste fat can be used to run engines.
Bentonite clay creates a clumping pet litter that is convenient for cat owners.
Mineral-based filters are removing bacteria and other contaminants from drinking water in the developing world.
Natural ingredients for high performance products
High purity minerals for enhanced food and beverage quality