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Thursday, 18 July 2019
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Raw materials & technologies, Raw materials, Coatings fillers

Sunflower seeds to promote eco-friendly concrete

Friday, 12 July 2013

Sunflower seed husks could be used as an environmentally friendly filler for concrete, Turkish researchers say.

Sunflower seed husks could serve as an environmentally friendly filler for concrete

Source: Franz Pfluegl -  Fotolia.com

Sunflower seed husks could serve as an environmentally friendly filler for concrete

Source: Franz Pfluegl -  Fotolia.com

Sunflower seed husks, a huge waste product of the vegetable oil and food industry, could be used as an environmentally friendly filler, or aggregate, for concrete according to Turkish researchers. The team of Namik Kemal University in Turkey demonstrated that the use of husks reduces the density of concrete as well as boosting the material's resistance to cracking after exposure to icy conditions.

Engineers Can Burak Sisman and Erhan Gezer explain in their paper in the "International Journal of Environment and Waste Management” how 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: energy and resource intensive

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, the bulk of which is used in the manufacture of sunflower oil in the Thrace region. The by-product is approximately 300,000 tonnes of fibrous seed husk. The team has therefore experimented with different formulations of seed husk in a concrete mix.

Suitable for agricultural buildings

They produced concrete samples with the lowest density could be classified as "lightweight”. Some samples had low compressibility suitable for construction use although higher husk content meant the resulting concrete could be used only for insulation applications. The team suggests that the sunflower seed concrete would be most suitable for the construction of agricultural buildings that are usually only one floor high and do not have to be as sufficiently load bearing as domestic or office buildings.

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