Limex: limestone material to replace paper and plastic
Reading a book written on stone. You would think that time was long over and only something you would see in the Flintstones now, but the Japanese company TBM has brought this concept back. They have made a paper and plastic replacing substance on the basis of limestone, called Limex.
Paper is made from wood pulp, which contributes to deforestation. Additionally, there is a lot of water necessary to make it. Plastic is made with petroleum, a non renewable resource. These are all major problems, which TBM believes to – at least partly – solve with their new product.
The process of making paper from stone is not entirely new. The process was first developed by the Taiwan company Lung Meng Tech Co. in 1998. Their version, called Stone Paper, is made from leftover marble, crushed to a powder, and plastic. While being waterproof and untearable, it is not suited for high temperatures, so you cannot use it in a laser printer. You also cannot use it for toilet and tissue paper either, because it does not absorb water. Additionally, it is about twenty per cent more expensive than regular paper.
Limex, on the other hand, is made from limestone, which, according to the company, is abundantly available in many countries. Because Limex can be recycled, the source is nearly inexhaustible. Limex consists of about eighty per cent limestone and twenty per cent polyolefin resin, a type of polymer, so the fabrication of Limex costs less petroleum than ordinary plastic. No water or wood pulp is used in the process.
Like the Taiwanese version, Limex is waterproof and cannot be torn. It is still a bit more expensive than paper, though the raw materials are cheaper that those of regular paper. Whether this paper can withstand high temperatures is unclear.
Limex can replace both paper and plastic, but in the future, TBM wants to use the product in building material, clothing, cars, et cetera, as well. With everything around us made from stone again, we might fancy ourselves back in the Stone Age.