Published on May 1st, 2013 | by James Ayre


Improved Concrete Via Use Of Sunflower Seed Husks

May 1st, 2013 by  

An improved form of concrete, made by utilizing a waste material of the agricultural industry — sunflower seed husks — has been created by researchers at the Namik Kemal University in Turkey.

Image Credit: Sunflower Seeds via Wikimedia Commons

Image Credit: Sunflower Seeds via Shutterstock

The husks are a waste product of the vegetable oil and food industry, and are produced in enormous quantities, so any potential use for them would be a big plus with regards to waste reduction.

The improvements are related to fact that through the use of the sunflower seed husks, the density of the concrete is reduced while at the same time improving “the material’s resistance to cracking after exposure to icy then thawing conditions.”

The press release continues:

The accumulation of unmanaged wastes from the food industry, particularly in developing countries is becoming increasingly problematic. As such, researchers are hoping to find new applications for such waste in the creation of environmentally friendly materials and composites in the road-building and construction industries for instance. This is particularly pertinent given the rising cost and chronic shortages of conventional materials. Engineers are thus being challenged to convert industrial wastes to replacements for certain materials.

Concrete is perhaps one of the most energy and resource intensive materials and researchers have investigated and applied waste rubber, glass powder and paper waste sludge as alternative fillers and bulking agents. The addition of such materials can affect significantly the properties of concrete altering its strength, density and water resistance detrimentally in some instances.

The team has turned to the sunflower seed and more specifically its inedible husk as a possible alternative material for concrete. Turkey is the ninth largest sunflower producer in the world, generating almost a million tonnes of product from 584000 hectares, the bulk of which is used in the manufacture of sunflower oil in the Thrace region. The by-product is approximately 300000 tonnes of fibrous seed husk. The team has therefore experimented with different formulations of seed husk in a concrete mix.

Among the formulations developed by the researchers are some that are very well suited for certain construction uses — specifically, in the construction of the large, typically one-story high agricultural buildings that are ubiquitous in the region. These buildings don’t require the level of load bearing support that conventional concrete provides, and would be very well suited to the use of cheaper forms made with materials that would otherwise end up in landfills.

The new technology was detailed in a paper just published in the International Journal of Environment and Waste Management.

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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • As a fibrous, woody substance, doesn’t the sunflower husk break down over time? What changes in the concrete performance can be expected over time? More details, please.

  • agelbert

    It was many years ago but I have personally seen HUGE Sunflower fields in Kansas. The Sunflower is the Kansas state flower and they grow a LOT of these amazing and beautiful sun tracking plants.

    Kansas should jump on this with both feet. Whether they will or not is another matter. Can proud, ethnocentric Jayhawkers learn from Turks? If it’s a scientist to scientist exchange, yes. Otherwise, NO.

  • kimbo

    this would be a ideal reuse addition to eco reef garden blocks for FFF (free fish farming—– . using pavlof technology instead of drugs and net tanks . 4paz .org

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