In the Netherlands, designer Thomas Vailly worked with scientists from Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Ingénieurs en Arts Chimiques Et Technologiques (ENSIACET) laboratory to turn sunflower crop waste into biomaterials to make sustainable products from insulation panels to iPhone cases.
Sunflowers are commonly farmed to produce oil, seeds or bio-fuel and part of it can be used as animal feed but most of the crop goes to waste. The stalk’s foamy structure, the strong fiber of the bark or the flower’s dark brown proteins are left behind. These agro-wastes can be valuable resources to produce novel biomaterials.
“No PLA or binder, no toxic varnish, we make use only of the ingredients provided by the Sunflower crop,” according to Studio Thomas Vailly’s website. “The presscake – left after pressing the Sunflower oil out of the seeds – is turned into a waterbased glue and vegetal leather. The stalk is harvested and the bark is separated from the marrow. The bark’s fibers are heat pressed into hardboard while the marrow is shaped into an aggregate, a natural alternative to polystyrene. These different bio-materials can be coated with Sunflower varnish improve their resistance to water.”