So what do you get when you cross a piece of plastic with a chunk of rock?
No, not “plock” – you get a really strong, environmentally-friendly new material to make stuff with.
Since the plastic in this case is ABS (explanation at the end*), which is what LEGO® bricks are made from that shouldn’t be surprising.
This new concoction comes from our neighbors to the North, the engineers at University of British Columbia. What they did was take stone scraps, the bits left over after cutting a block of stone for a building or a monument, and blend that with a polymer. In this particular experiment, the rock was powdered granite and the polymer was ABS plastic and the result was “plock”, which is stronger and more durable than either the original plastic or rock.
The Canadians think it can be used in all sorts of ways from aerospace to automotive uses, and even at the right blend of plastic and rock, as the raw material for 3D-printers. And they describe it as a “green stone composite”, not because of its color but because it “recycles” rock trash. That’s the “environmentally-friendly” part.
So here’s a toast to the marriage of plastic and rock and may there be many happy anniversaries to come!
*“ABS” doesn’t stand for abs, it stands for “acrylonitrile butadiene styrene”, which is what this plastic is made from. And that ABS starts in the lab, with a mix of three petrochemicalst propylene, benzene and butylene.