Sunflower Surfaces

An unexpected source of sustainable building materials is being explored by Eindhoven-based designer and founder of Studio Thomas Vailly Thomas Vailly. Collaborating with scientists from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Ingénieurs en Arts Chimiques Et Technologiques (ENSIACET) laboratory, Vailly has focused his efforts on transforming bio-waste from sunflowers into design solutions.

It’s extremely exciting to see a trend towards designers, architects, engineers, artists, and manufacturers selecting and absorbing waste materials into their products and projects. In this instance, a crop grown to largely produce oil and seeds produces a huge amount of matter that can have a range of uses, from animal feed to compost, but can also be used to offset the use of additional raw materials.

By focusing on using every part of the sunflower crop and refusing to include any additional ingredients with the aim of producing a replacement for binding and varnish, as well as the material itself. The material left over from extracting sunflower oil, for example, can be used to create a thin leather-like material as well as water-based glue, whilst the bark fibre of sunflower stalks can be pressed to produce a hardboard.

The marrow of the sunflower stalk can be combined with the water-based glue and turned into a polystyrene replacement. The materials created from sunflower bio-waste can find a use in a variety of industries, from phone cases to insulation panels. It is important to note that these products are not exact replacements to their standard and synthetic counterparts, but offer a range of different characteristics that are beneficial and worth further exploration.

Focusing on research of resources that are abundant and unused offers great insight into the potential for sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives which are greatly necessary and will prove invaluable in the years to come.

Studio Thomas Vailly

A new post by Hanna Simpson, Diary of a Tile Addict, April 2021.

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