Conventional extenders increase the low shear viscosity of lightweight cement slurries, thereby allowing a higher proportion of water to be used without causing sedimentation and free water problems. However, the use of high levels of water in the slurry leads to a weaker and more permeable set cement. The use instead of hollow mineral spheres which encapsulate air voids allows the formulation of low density slurries without increasing the water/cement ratio.
Perlite is a volcanic glass which expands rapidly upon heating at moderate temperatures to produce a mixture of sealed and unsealed hollow particles. Unsealed particles act as a conventional extender by increasing slurry viscosity, whereas the sealed particles reduce the density directly by introducing air which cannot escape into the slurry. The hollow sealed particles have exceptionally low density, and are suitable for use in shallow intervals in which the hydrostatic pressure is not sufficient to crush them.
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