National Grid wants to convert your flatulence into fuel — and then sell it back to you.
The utility company is teaming up with the city to build a gas processing facility on Greenpoint Avenue and Humboldt Street that will convert excess methane — farts, if you will — from the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant into utility-grade natural gas.
If it all works as planned, National Grid will capture about 550 million cubic feet of gas per year — enough to heat 2,500 homes.
The design of the new purification facility, which some are already calling “The Fart Factory,” is halfway finished and construction is expected to begin later this year and end in 2012.
Currently, the sewage plant treats 1.2 million cubic meters of pungent sludge pumped every day into Greenpoint — burning off excess anaerobic gas that results from the treatment process in unsightly flares, which community leaders have complained about for decades.
Once operational, the facility will also remove carbon dioxide and unwanted compounds from the so-called “swamp gas” produced by the plant’s iconic egg-shaped digesters.
Two on-site compressors will pressurize and inject the clean, odorless gas into National Grid’s distribution system at Maspeth and Varick avenues, and will eventually heat the homes and stoves of millions of New Yorkers.
The resulting network will remove 16,650 tons of carbon dioxide annually — which is equivalent to keeping 3,000 vehicles off the road.
As such, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Cas Holloway called the project “precedent-setting.”
“It’s a terrific clean-energy project that will generate a lot of interest,” said Holloway. “This is a place where we’re doing cutting-edge renewable energy, and it is going to be a draw.”
But some community leaders complained of the project’s main drawback: it will deprive neighborhood leaders of land on which they had hoped to build a small park.
“We’re very excited about the actual project, but the combination of the location and its look is a problem for us,” said Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee member Laura Hofmann.
Holloway revealed that National Grid will work with the sewage plant’s architect to continue its “Greenpoint industrial chic” design. But he dismissed the suggestion to relocate the project to a nearby site.
“This really is the spot because the infrastructure is there,” said Holloway. “I don’t want to give the impression there is a real viable set of alternatives for this project elsewhere in the plant. It has to be at the plant to take advantage of the plant’s energy.”
So eat that extra portion of beans, Greenpoint; you’ll be helping create more fuel for the rest of us.