Researchers at the Namik Kemal University in Turkey have discovered that by using sunflower seed husks, they can improve concrete by reducing its density while increasing its resistance to cracking during cold conditions.
Concrete is extremely resource and energy intensive. Researchers have tried adding alternative fillers and bulking agents such as applied waste rubber, glass powder and paper waste sludge, but often these have affected the strength negatively.
There are massive quantities of sunflower husks since they are a leading waste product of the vegetable oil and food industry. Researchers are finding new ways to utilize previously unmanaged wastes from the food industry.
Researchers are hoping to find innovative ways to create composites and environmentally friendly materials to use in such industries as transportation and construction. This is particularly pertinent given the rising cost and chronic shortages of conventional materials. Engineers are figuring out new ways to convert industrial wastes to usable components for certain materials.
Turkey is the ninth largest sunflower seed producer in the world, generating nearly a million tonnes of sunflower seeds from 584,000 hectares, so having a viable alternative for reusing sunflower waste is important. The by-product is approximately 300000 tonnes of fibrous seed husk.
The team has experimented with different formulations of seed husk in a concrete mix.