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Uses of Diatomite in Kenya

Diatomite was first discovered in Kenya in 1928-29 by the Kenyan-British archeologist, Louis Leakey, in the Rift Valley region.

Shortly after, in 1942, the African Diatomite Limited was established.

The factory set up at Kariandusi, which is an archeological site located east of Lake Elementaita, in Nakuru County.

In recent years, there has been a discovery of Diatomite in Baringo County as well.

In this article, I will discuss the various uses of diatomite in Kenya at length.

But first…

What Is Diatomite?

Diatomite is a naturally occurring mineral formed from the remains of single-celled organisms known as diatoms.

It is a soft whitish rock that can be easily crushed to form a white/off-white powder.

The following are some of the properties of diatomite:

  • Abrasive feel
  • Low density(lightweight)
  • Inertness
  • Excellent porosity
  • Insulating properties
  • High silica content

These properties make diatomite suitable for application in the following industries:

  • Food and beverage industry
  • Agricultural industry
  • Paints and coating industry
  • In insulation
  • Dental Industry
  • Pharmaceutical industry
  • Cleaning industry

So, what is diatomite used for in Kenya?

Uses of Diatomite in Kenya

The following are the four major uses of diatomite in Kenya.

1. As A Filter Aid in Food and Beverage Industry

The process of using diatomite as a filter aid in water is referred to as pre-coat filtration.

During this process, the diatomite is placed on a septum, or filter element, and is used to strain unwanted particulate matter, such as impurities, dirt, sand, and other particles, as well as volatile organic chemicals.

This is because of its skeleton structure perfused by many tiny holes.

Since it’s both odorless and tasteless, using diatomite as a filter media makes it safe for water and liquids meant for human consumption.

Compared to other minerals used in water filtration, the pre-coat process is cheap, making purified water affordable.

Over the years, the use of diatomite in water filtration has become popular, with the production of highly compressed ceramic filters with diatomic properties that can be used to filter drinking water at home.

 These filters are available locally and are affordable.

2. As A Natural Insecticide in the Agricultural Industry

The skeleton structure of diatomite consists of sharp edges, which prove to be lethal for insects.

This, however, is not the only reason diatomite is suitable for agricultural use.

Its physical structure consists of many small holes, which allow for water and air to pass through.

Therefore, when incorporated into the soil, diatomite can be used to increase the permeation of water and air.

3. As An Additive in the Paint and Coating Industry

Diatomite is greatly useful in this industry, for a variety of reasons.

 It extends the primary pigments of the paint, which in turn enhances the color of the paint.

It also improves the strength and bulk of paint.

Diatomite’s increased permeability helps paint dry up quickly, and leaves a uniform shade of the painting.

Diatomite also acts as a matting agent, which prevents cracking of the top coat, enhances breathability, and provides the paint with scrub resistance.

Diatomite’s inertness prevents it from reacting with binders and pigments commonly found in water based coatings.

Another important fact that makes diatomite so useful in this industry is that it increases the durability of the paint.

These factors are attributed to the properties of diatomite that we mentioned at the beginning.

4. In Insulation

Another use of diatomite in Kenya is in the insulation of steam pipes and boilers.

Its high silica content, which is basically glass, makes diatomite heat resistant. It is mainly used as inner lining to resist high temperatures.

Though it might appear to be just a lightweight, cheap natural resource, diatomite is a valuable and useful mineral in a variety of industries.

Also check:

Uses of Fluorspar in Kenya

Uses of Limestone in Kenya

Kenyalogue Contributor


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