We made a field trip to the ISKI (Water and Drainage Administration of Istanbul) high biological purification facility in order to obtain information on current methods used in water purification. The purification facility is used to augment the speed of the process that spontaneously occurs in nature. In the facility, water is not only purified but also the precipitated waste part is used in the production of biogas, which is used in providing a portion of the energy requirement of the facility. The water purification process has four main points: physical separation grids, bio-phosphorus pools, aeration pools, and precipitation pools. In the physical separation process, there are two grid types: bulk grids and perforated grids. While bulk grids separate the waste larger than 5 cm, perforated grids separate the ones more than 1 cm.
We visited ASAT (the Water and Drainage Administration of Antalya) and learned how tourists affect the wastewater treatment facilities at touristic cities with Antalya being the example.
There are 39 wastewater management facilities in Antalya because the cleanliness of the sea is so important for touristic purposes. A tourist uses 550 to 600 litres of water daily when an average person in Antalya uses only 150 to 200 litres of water so the amount of drainage increases from winter to summer. In order for the facility to be able to be enough for the city year around in touristic cities the summer population is essential to turn to account when facilities are planned. In Turkey the tourists don't pay any environmental taxes yet the reason why there are as many wastewater treatment facilities in touristic cities like Antalya is the fact that so many tourists visit these places and use way more water than an average citizen.
In Antalya treated wastewater is discharged but it should be reused as refined water. We have the technology necessary to reuse wastewater right now but it's very costly and in the future more cost efficient methods should be found in order to reuse it everywhere. Only the hotels at the places where there aren't canalisation systems refine their own discharge but it is not optimal nor is it cost efficient.
Prof. Dr. Altunay Perendeci
We asked Prof. Dr. Altunay Perendeci, who is a professor of environmental engineering, about the future of wastewater treatment and how the methods that are currently used at high biological purification facilities will be improved. How our project can be applied and assured us that our enzyme couldn’t be used in wastewater management facilities as we saw when we visited two of them.
Veysel Vardal School of Visually Impaired
We visited the Veysel Vardal School of Visually Impaired on 16 September 2021. It showed us that science was for everyone and enforced our empathy. We brought DNA Models and they built them. We put labels with embossed letters of Braille on the nucleotides beforehand for help them understand how the DNA was formed and used wool to help them feel it's helical structure. To add more, our teammates made a presentation about synthetic biology, genetics, IGEM and our project Cellulophile.
In order to introduce the middle-school students of Alev School to the world of iGEM, we made a presentation on synthetic biology, genetics, and told them about our project.
Integrated Human Practices
As we mentioned before, we visited the wastewater management facility in İstanbul (ISKI). We observed how biological purification was carried out and learned how the facility used bacteria in the process as part of bio-phosphorus pools. We were excited to see the sophisticated ways wastewater was purified in this facility and surprised to learn that the facility had the technology to purify water to the point of reusing it. As we have been exploring how our enzyme may be used in a biological purification process, as one of the potential further applications of our project, we had the opportunity to inquire with the facility operators whether such use could be an option.
Samples of water that hasn't been cleaned yet
Since getting rid of all the dissolved paper towel molecules still costs a lot of money and energy in wastewater management facilities, we were hoping they would say yes and that we could help them. Unfortunately, we were informed that they did not consider that as a possible option. Taking into account that paper towels would already have been dissolved and all the paper molecules would thereby be dispersed in water, using the enzyme we are developing would not be viable in a wastewater management facility. Even though this was not the outcome we initially hoped for. This application was just a thought among other applications. The observation and the interaction with the facility managers helped us eliminate a non-viable option and led us to focus on the other potential applications.
We reasoned that if we could not use our enzyme in water, we could utilize it without letting it come into contact with the water. The excessive amount of paper towels thrown in the bins at our school caught our eyes and we began to concentrate on the tower of paper towels in the bins. With this approach, we were able to develop a method to utilize the least quantity of water in the process of destroying paper towels. Notably, in wastewater facilities, a significant amount of additional water is used for the destruction of paper towels in wastewater facilities. Additionally, this may help obstruction of pipes caused by paper towels be avoided if more people are convinced to toss paper towels in bins instead of toilets.
Above all, we have developed an even better approach to disposing of paper towels as a result of our visit to ISKI. We are grateful that we were given the chance to improve our further application methods as much as we have thanks to our visit to ISKI.