Sunflower is grown for its seed, from which high-quality oil and protein are extracted. The seed only accounts for a small part of the plant, leaving a substantial amount of sunflower biomass unexploited.
Sunflower growers would greatly benefit from new applications that create value from the dumped sunflower biomass. So far, most studies have focused on the production of fibre. The pith of sunflower stems contains good quality fibres that can be used in various new bio-based materials, for instance as insulation or as construction material.
The bark of sunflower stem also contains fibres that may lead to new bio-based products. Intriguingly, we found that a side stream generated during bark fibre extraction is highly bioactive when applied to plants and preliminary analysis showed that the bioactivity can potentially be developed into new agricultural products. These findings entail new opportunities for transforming sunflower biomass into renewable products that match with the forecasted sustainable bio-economy.
BioSUNmulant aims to create an integrated value chain of sunflower biomass by considering the entire process from plant selection and cultivation, biomass collection and transformation, up to the formulation of bioactive extracts and testing these in the field.
BioSUNmulant will chemically purify the bioactive ingredient(s) and analyse the physicochemical properties to enhance our bioactivity knowledge, which will help to improve product development and application. The bioactive extracts are expected to be valorised as innovative and ecologically friendly agricultural products; and the fibres extracted from sunflower biomass to be validated as a natural material source, generating economical values with a low environmental footprint.
The major outcome of the project will be an integrated value chain for sunflower biomass by-product, taking into account economic, environmental and societal impact, contributing to the sustainable development goals set by the United Nations. The project will disseminate results among academia, industries, and policymakers, through communication tools such as conferences, workshops, manuals and university classes. The aspiration is to promote novel biomass (by-products) utilisation strategies in the European Union, creating new directions for the bio-economy.
*At the time of the proposal. Please consider this data as an accurate estimate; it may vary during the project’s lifespan.
Total costs include in kind contribution by grant holders and can therefore be higher than the total requested funding.