Studio Thomas Vailly's flower power: how to make leather and glue from sunflowers

Studio Thomas Vailly
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Sunflowers are farmed to produce oil, seeds or bio-fuel. After pressing the oil out, some of what is left is used as animal feed, but most of the crop goes to waste. The stalk’s foamy structure, the strong fibre of the bark or the flower’s dark brown proteins are left behind even though this waste can be valuable resources to produce new biomaterials.

The Sunflower Entreprise© project of the Dutch Studio Thomas Vailly, which has received funding from the Luma Foundation and Stimuleringsfond Creatieve Industrie and is supported by the scientific expertise of regional partners, uses sunflower leftovers to create new applications and prototypes embedded in sustainable production systems.

Picture courtesy of Studio Thomas Vailly


Main results

This project only makes use of the ingredients provided by the sunflower crop to produce innovative materials.

  • The presscake, which is what is left after pressing the Sunflower oil out of the seeds, is turned into a water-based glue and vegetal leather.
  • The stalk is harvested and the bark is separated from the marrow.
  • The bark's fibres are heat-pressed into hardboard, while the marrow is shaped into an aggregate, as a natural alternative to polystyrene.
  • These different bio-materials can be coated with sunflower varnish to improve their resistance to water.