Education

A flowery outlook for concrete

It makes sense that if you produce around a million tonnes of sunflowers, then there is a substantial by-product ? fibrous seed husks. In fact, there are 300,000 tonnes of seed husks per year.
These husks are a huge waste product of the vegetable oil and food industry and now a Turkish research team has devised a way to use them as an environmentally friendly filler ? an alternative to aggregate – for concrete.
Turkish researchers writing in the International Journal of Environment and Waste Management 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, then thawing conditions. 
Engineers Can Burak Sisman and Erhan Gezer of Namik Kemal University in Turkey are hoping to find new applications for waste in the creation of environmentally friendly materials and composites for road building and construction. 
Concrete is one of the most energy and resource intensive materials and researchers have applied waste rubber, glass powder and paper waste sludge as alternative fillers and bulking agents in the past. These materials affect the properties of concrete, altering its strength, density and water resistance. 
The Turkish team has produced concrete samples with a density of around 2000 tonnes per cubic metre. Some samples had low compressibility suitable for construction use, although higher husk content meant the resulting concrete could be used only for insulation applications. 
Not surprisingly, the sunflower seed concrete is said to be most suited to the construction of agricultural buildings that are usually only one floor and do not need to be as load bearing as domestic or office buildings. 
Source: Inderscience

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