BEYOND THE STREAM TABLE: OTHER GEOSCIENCE EDUCATION APPLICATIONS FOR GROUND MELAMINE PLASTIC
Melamine plastic is a thermoset resin, which means it can’t be re-melted once it has set, but used melamine is often cryogenically frozen and ground it into a granular material that is commonly sold as an air-abrasive for stripping paint off soft surfaces. Melamine is much softer (Moh’s hardness 3) than mineral sand, so it won’t likely scratch lab tables or lab equipment. It also has a much lower specific gravity (ca. 1.48 – 1.52) and bulk density (ca. 700 kg/m3) compared to mineral sand. The material will accept some “fiber reactive” dyes to emphasize sediment-sorting patterns.
One manufacturer, Little River Research and Design, uses melamine as the mobile bed material in their stream tables. Upon receiving an Em2 model for my lab, I realized that ground melamine would make an ideal replacement for mineral sand when teaching other subjects. In addition to geomorphology, I will provide examples of using melamine sand for teaching hydrogeology, soil mechanics, physical sedimentology, and even special effects cinematography.