New York City has entered a new frontier of sustainability by turning food and human waste into energy that will heat our homes and businesses.
And it is all going to happen in eight enormous space-age eggs in Brooklyn.
The city announced Friday that it has partnered with Waste Management, Inc., and National Grid to harness the methane that is generated at its Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant and convert it into “pipeline ready” fuel. The three-year pilot project has the potential to reduce New York City’s carbon emissions by more than 90,000 metric tons annually, comparable to taking 19,000 cars off the road, city officials said.
At a tour of the facility with the city and its private sector partners last week, Newtown Creek plant manager Jim Pynn explained that bio-gas, which is mainly methane, is a standard by-product of the wastewater treatment process. How is bio-gas generated? By cooking the waste, essentially.
At the Newtown Creek plant in North Brooklyn, the city’s largest wastewater treatment facility, human and other types of organic waste undergo a series of processes which produce a sludge.
The sludge is then heated to at least 95 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 to 20 days in the plant’s immediately recognizable “digester eggs." The heating of the sludge generates the growth of anaerobic bacteria, which consume much of the organic material. That “digestion” process produces water, carbon dioxide and bio-gas.