The responsibilities we have for each other vary from the routine simple tasks to the more complicated. However, regardless of how thoughtout the action is, how much good it does can only be judged by the people effected by it. In order to be aware of how our project effects the world we have output several events that would help us see from others perspectives. Eventhough, we have not only creatively and carefully planned our actions and what we have reflected to the public, we have also changed the workflow of our own project from what they have mirrored to us. Below, you can have more information on the thoughful approaches we have established while exploring how the importance of our project should be executed along with how it should be improved for the better of the world.
We conducted a survey on digital platforms to gather more data that could be beneficial for our project and our future HP events; with the attendance of 582 people in total, 519 of whom are from our country. Firstly, we started our survey with a question to see the education levels of attendees and have seen that they 73% of the participants were university graduates.
Our findings showed that 74% percent of the participants owns a car. 30% percent stated that their car ran on petrol, and 34% said that their cars ran on diesel.
99% of all of the people that answered our survey stated that they were concerned about the future of Earth; considering the pollution caused by fossil fuels and a shocking 99% percent said that they would rather use eco-friendly fuels even though they may be more expensive. This shows how much people are ready to make a change for a better future.
In our country, where lignocellulosic biomass is extremely abundant due to agriculture, we found out that a large number of people such as 92% weren’t aware that something called biomass energy exists and again another 75% didn’t know what bioethanol is. Thus, this data led us to widen our HP works to raise awareness of the public and gave us the idea of celebrating Biofuels Day in a park in the later processes of our project, because we wanted people to know that our country could benefit from such an energy type.
The chart below, obtained from our survey, shows how high the awareness is of Turkish people on energy dependence of our country since the largest amount of people answered right with choosing 70%-80%. Another indication of that fact is seen in our data which shows only a total of 11% thinks that our dependence rate is under 50%. This data indicates that the public would be more than willing to make adjustments in their lives, such as changing the fuel they use in their cars in order to decrease the burden on our shoulders and boost our economy.
We saw that 66% of people we surveyed had no idea that diesel cars can run on biodiesel and gasoline cars can run on bioethanol. They also didn’t know that the fuel on the market is compulsorily blended with varying percentages of ethanol. This again pushed us to the conclusion that people needed to realize those facts to make a change, thus, we intended to organize more human practice events to increase awareness.
As we’ve obtained and analyzed all data that was compiled at the end of our survey, we came to the conclusion that fossil fuels are a great concern for most of the population and people would do their best to avoid the negative outcomes of fossil fuels’ use by taking action. However, a great portion of attendees showed ignorance to the use use of biofuels as means of renewable energy. Thus, we expanded our human practices to further educate the public about the importance of biofuels, and lead them to take action in this direction for a clean and green future, free from pollution and many other negative impacts caused by fossil fuels’ use.
Meeting with Republic of Turkey Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources Minister Advisor Oğuz Can
At the developing stages of our project, (with the help of our principal investigator and Figen Ar, PhD.) we arranged a meeting with the Republic of Turkey Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources Minister Advisor “Oğuz Can”, to obtain more information about renewable energy and bioethanol production in our country along with the comparison to other countries. He provided significant information that helped us in shaping our work and its target population. He stated that the role of renewable energy increases every passing day both in our country and the world which encouraged us even further to continue with our work in that direction. He also mentioned that biomass energy fields had a lot of improvement and usage potential in the future. Mr. Can explain to us that he thinks bioethanol production is essential for the elimination of harmful petroleum-based energy and transmission to green energy sources. Moreover, he mentioned that they also work on some projects about producing and enhancing the production of bioethanol because of the same purpose as our project.
Though we were aware that bioethanol was blended with the fuels and commonly known for its use in cars, we asked him whether bioethanol can also be a potential fuel in air transportation and how can this be possible. He was positive, and mentioned Turkish Airlines’ launched project, encapsulating this concern. However, the project did not catch enough attention and couldn’t be finalized.
Mr. Can provided us with data about our country’s energy policy suggesting that Turkey imports 97 out of every 100 liters of petroleum used. He also told us only 73 thousand tons of petroleum was covered by us in 2 million and 300 thousand tonnes. The data portrayed our country’s dependency on others which has aroused wide concern in economic and politic matters. The director also mentioned that they find bioethanol production as very strategic in the means of providing supply security for our country which could be enhanced by our project. Thus, we also discussed increasing bioethanol factories as an effective and fertile solution, in Turkey to decrease our dependence.
As we discussed how in some states of US, 10 % bioethanol use in fuels are mandatory whereas in our country only 3% is; we asked Mr. Can what could be done in order to increase the percentage. The answer came right away; he told us that we should be careful not to, in many ways, minimize the fields designated for agriculture as we raised awareness of the topic. We gave it some thought and came up with the idea of specifying the fields based on how they will be used. He also mentioned that Sun and wind energy catch on more as in bioethanol production, logistical problems occur more often and better technology is needed. This pointed the craving for our project in our country.
Another concern of ours was that after the cotton harvesting season, farmers burn the straws which were not collected on time. Such occurrence harms the soil and further affects the next seeds. We additionally suggested if we could support the collection of the straws by reducing the fuel prices for the farmer. Therefore we asked Mr. Can what can be done to best fulfill our goal. He told us that the bioethanol producing factories only work for specific seasons. Although the answer did not provide a solution to our concern, it highlighted how our project can serve as a long-term working and cheap alternative.
Mr. Can believed that our project is on point considering the dependence of Turkey to foreign countries; when it comes to energy sources. He, furthermore, told us that if something like our project were to become widely used, it could help to maintain a good economy energy-wise and a good source of power. Before our meeting was over, Oğuz Can gave us advice on how to educate other people about biofuels and raise awareness and told us he would be supporting us with our work.
Visiting Turkey’s biggest Bioethanol Biorefinery
Since our project mainly focuses on bioethanol production, we wanted to know how the process is carried out for industrial purposes. We visited the local producer of ethanol, Konya Çumra Integrated Facilities and tried to gather information about the process. There, we were given a thorough tour of the facility and were able to ask questions regarding our project.
In the first step, we were assisted to the laboratory where we gather general information about bioethanol, its purity, and its use. Later on, we were guided to the fermentation plant where ethanol was produced with yeast. The ethanol that is produced is then taken and sent to distillation. With fractional distillation, the purity of ethanol is increased up to 96%, in this state it could be used for cosmetic purposes. For fuel use, with an additional step called flash distillation, the purity is increased up to 99.9%.
The factory we visited was a symbiotic factory where the wastes were reused and the waste used for ethanol production was molasses cane. Molasses cane is basically composed of disaccharides, hence, it doesn’t require an additional pre-treatment process. However, since our project aims to produce ethanol from the lignocellulosic material that is more complex, we asked them whether it was possible to add an additional plant for pre-treatment and continue producing ethanol from lignocellulosic waste. They were interested in our idea and had a positive approach to it. This encouraged us to move on with our project and also turned out to be an approval that it was possible to produce ethanol from the lignocellulosic waste in our country with the help of our project. They claimed that their bioethanol production was barely meeting the demand and the facility had to be always active. This also made us more enthusiastic. Overall, the conversations we had with the authorities and our observations helped us shape our design, prototype and further develop our project.
Visiting Çatalhöyük, the first Agricultural area in Turkey
Since our project basically focuses on agriculture, we decided to see the first place in human history for agriculture to be made, Çatalhöyük. Çatalhöyük was a Neolithic City and now it is described as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We thought of this as an opportunity that such valuable archaeological remains are settling in our country and we took advantage of it by paying a visit.
Our Interactions with Dr. Figen Ar
We met Figen Ar, who has been working in Panko-Union (beet production union) and has been a consultant in both newly opening and old ethanol factories, as she gave us a presentation on the 14th of March.
The insights she has given us about our project helped us be aware of the difficulties we may face in the future. For example, she told us that such attempts to increase bioethanol percentage in blends usually occur, however, are usually futile until supported well. Also, she has provided detailed and numerical information on the efficiency of agricultural wastes in Turkey. Such information helped us have a deeper understanding of the topic and the agricultural situation of our own country.
She also mentioned how agricultural wastes are mistreated in our country. She told that most farmers usually burn the agricultural wastes, as a result of which, the soil and the environment is damaged. This also helped us shape our human practices in the further stages of the project.
Our Meeting with the President of the Green Energy Foundation
Thanks to Dr. Ar; we got a chance to gather with the Deputy President of the Green Energy Foundation, Tülin Keskin, to discuss our project. Since it’s in her best interest to promote awareness on environment friendly means to produce energy, her opinion matters to us immensely. She commented on our survey, and we took her advice to improve it. She recommended us to shorten the survey and make it simpler in order for it to be comprehended by a wider, both less and well educated audience and also to diminish any problems which may occur from age differences. Furthermore, she contributed to the distribution of our survey, in order for it to be filled by more people; thus improving the results’ reproducibility and ultimately increasing its accuracy.
Mrs. Keskin inspired us to celebrate the then-upcoming 10th of August; World Bioethanol day, too. Using her connections and networking, she gathered people and cooperated with the local authorities, Çankaya Municipality, to set up a place for the event along with the resources necessary.
Mrs. Keskin also used her connections to introduce us to many other people relevant to our project along with providing their contact information. For our further coming meetings, she encouraged us to prepare a file which will include our project description, upcoming plans, sponsorship file, and achievements.
Our Visit To Musa Dogan, An Environmental Scientist
After a lab day in METU Biological Sciences, Prof. Dr. Musa Dogan invited us to have a meeting about our project.
As an environmental scientist, he first shared his own experiences and projects he was involved in, both in Turkey and in many other countries he went to. Moreover, he gave us advice on how to succeed with our project in means of human practices and public engagement. He also provided us with a broader view of the difficulties we may face and how to overcome them; laying the groundwork for the further human practice stages of our project.
Efes Beer Production Facilities
Our principal investigator and secondary PIs, Tuğba Inanc and Ceyhun Kayıhan, visited the Efes Beer Production Facilities located just outside of our city.
They’ve spoken with the director about the fermentation processes, problems occurring during the fermentation and our project. In this visit which aimed to improve our project by consulting to the specialists of a firm which that has a lot of experience in beer production and alcohol fermentation, we’ve gathered more information about how our project could be integrated into different facilities and how it could be further improved to supply other necessities in the industry.