Thomas Vailly uses sunflowers to make bio-based materials
Eindhoven-based designer Thomas Vailly explores turning sunflower crop waste into bio-materials to make sustainable products from insulation panels to iPhone cases.
Thomas Vailly, founder of Studio Thomas Vailly (STV), teamed up with scientists from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Ingénieurs en Arts Chimiques Et Technologiques (ENSIACET) laboratory to develop a series of materials using only sunflower bio-matter.
Commonly grown to produce oil, seeds or bio-fuel, sunflower farming produces agricultural waste that has the potential to be made into valuable resources.
Vailly wanted to put every part of the sunflower crop to use, using the left over from the harvest to create both a sustainable material as well as a non-synthetic binder and a non-toxic varnish.
"The rules were simple, we can only use sunflower by-products, no added ingredients," said Vailly. "We work by focusing on one plant at a time – being so specific and constrained allows for exciting findings."
For instance, the press cake – a concentrated substance left over after extracting oil out of the seeds – can be used as animal feed, but it can also be turned into a water-based glue, or can be heated and pressed down into a thin film-like material that resembles leather.