Sunflower Pellets

From Cargo Handbook - the world's largest cargo transport guidelines website
Infobox on Sunflower Pellets
Example of Sunflower Pellets
  • Europe: Russia, Turkey
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • America: Argentina, Uruguay
  • Australia
Stowage factor (in m3/t) 1.48 - 1.56 m3/t
Angle of repose Approx. 42°
Humidity / moisture
  • Relative humidity: 70%
  • Water content: 5 - 8%
  • Maximum equilibrium moisture content: 70%
Oil content 0.5 - 1.5% (from extraction meal)
Ventilation (see also text) Sunflower pellets require particular temperature, humidity/moisture and ventilation conditions. Recommended ventilation conditions: surface ventilation.
Risk factors (see also text) Sunflower pellets are liable to the risk of self-heating/spontaneous combustion. Sunflower pellets are sensitive to unpleasant and/or pungent odors, contamination, moisture damage and insect infestation. An increase in CO2 and CO content in the hold air indicates that a cargo fire has begun. Danger: Risk of asphyxiation and poisoning on inhalation. No access is permitted to the hold until it has been adequately ventilated and the atmosphere tested with a gas detector. The CO content may rise from 0.002 - 0.005 vol.% to 1 vol.%. The lethal (fatal) dose is approx. 0.1 vol.%.

Sunflower Pellets


Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) is an annual plant native to the Americas. It possesses a large inflorescence (flowering head). The sunflower is named for its ability to follow the sun in the course of a day. The sunflower has a rough, hairy stem, broad, coarsely toothed, rough leaves and circular heads of flowers. The heads consist of many individual flowers which mature into seeds, often in the hundreds, on a receptacle base. From the Americas, Sunflower Seeds were brought to Europe in the 16th century, where, along with Sunflower Oil, they became a widespread cooking ingredient. Leaves of the sunflower can be used as cattle feed, while the stems contain a fibre which may be used in paper production.

What is usually called the "flower" on a mature sunflower is actually a "flower head" (also known as a "composite flower") of numerous florets (small flowers) crowded together. The outer petal-bearing florets are the sterile florets and can be yellow, red, orange, or other colors. The florets inside the circular head are called disc florets, which mature into seeds.

Sunflowers most commonly grow to heights between 1.5 and 3.5 m. Sunflowers track the sun in the course of a day. However, when fully grown, mature flowerheads typically face east and do not move. Until growth stops, the leaves and buds of sunflowers do exhibit heliotropism (sun turning). Their orientation changes from east to west during the course of a day, not west to east, as some believe. The movements become a circadian response and when plants are rotated 180 degrees, the old response pattern is still followed for a few days, with leaf orientation changing from west to east instead. The leaf and flowerhead bud phototropism occurs while the leaf petioles and stems are still actively growing, but once mature, the movements stop. These movements involve the petioles bending or twisting during the day then unbending or untwisting at night.

To grow best, sunflowers need full sun. They grow best in fertile, moist, well-drained soil with heavy mulch. In commercial planting, seeds are planted 45 cm (1.5 ft) apart and 2.5 cm (1 in) deep. Sunflower "whole seed" (fruit) are sold as a snack food, raw or after roasting in ovens, with or without salt and/or seasonings added. Sunflowers can be processed into a peanut butter alternative, sunflower butter. It is also sold as food for birds and can be used directly in cooking and salads.

Sunflower oil, extracted from the seeds, is used for cooking, as a carrier oil and to produce margarine and biodiesel, as it is cheaper than olive oil. A range of sunflower varieties exist with differing fatty acid compositions; some 'high oleic' types contain a higher level of monounsaturated fats in their oil than even olive oil.

The cake remaining after the seeds have been processed for oil is used as a livestock feed. Some recently developed cultivars have drooping heads. These cultivars are less attractive to gardeners growing the flowers as ornamental plants, but appeal to farmers, because they reduce bird damage and losses from some plant diseases. Sunflowers also produce latex, and are the subject of experiments to improve their suitability as an alternative crop for producing hypoallergenic rubber.

The pellets are brown in color. Product intended for shipping must be adequately matured. The time required for maturing is determined by the oil content. Residual oil contents of < 1.5% indicate extraction meal, while higher oil contents indicate expeller.


Sunflower pellets are primarily used as a feedstuff.

Shipment / storage / usage

Sunflower pellets are chiefly shipped in bulk and the stowage spaces should allow mechanical ventilation. The product is not to be stowed near/over heat sources (i.e. fuel tanks, hot pipework, engine-room bulkhead etc.). Surface ventilation is recommended. However, to avoid moisture damage on the surface of the cargo, ventilation must not be performed with cold external air. The ventilation system must then be switched to return air. As with bulk cargoes of expeller, pellets are also often not ventilated.

The travel temperature should preferably be between 5 and 25°C. Temperatures of up to 30°C are admissible for short periods, providing the critical water content of the product is not exceeded - in order to avoid self-heating -. Product temperatures of 25 - 55°C may occur in tropical ports; if en-route the temperatures are rising >55°C and increasing further, closing of hatch openings and injection of CO2 or inert gas should be considered. At temperatures of 35 - 40°C within the stow, fat degradation and thus self-heating is activated.

Pellets must be protected from all forms of moisture (seawater, rain and condensation water), since moisture encourages mold, mustiness and self-heating.

An increase in CO2 and CO content in the hold air is indicative of a vigorous heating process resp. fire in the cargo. CO2 has a smothering action on the seat of the fire because it displaces oxygen.

Note: See also advice on overseas shipment of Seedcake

Risk factors

  • Self-heating / Spontaneous combustion
  • Odor
  • Contamination
  • Toxicity / Hazards to health
  • Shrinkage / Shortage
  • Insect infestation / Diseases