CO2 applications

Under normal conditions, CO2 is a colourless gas, odourless, with a slightly sour taste, denser than air, inert and non-flammable. It is liquefied at a pressure of 15-17 bar and a temperature of -30 to -35 °C. CO2 is non-toxic and is present in the atmosphere in a concentration of about 400ppm. Higher concentrations are dangerous for health due to reduced oxygen in the air.

co2 applications
Carbon Dioxide is a greenhouse gas, higher emissions are subject to the payment of emission coupons in most of the OECD countries.

Today, technologies including Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) or Carbon Capture and Utilization (CCU) are being developed on different scales, but before we look at how to capture this CO2, we first need to know where it can actually be used, by various industries and medical applications.

Therefore, we will detail those carbon dioxide applications here, each of them being able to freely use any CO2 that would have been captured from a CO2 storage and utilization system.

First of all, carbon dioxide is most commonly used in two different states: gaseous or liquid. Generally, CO2 gas is transported, stored and handled in liquid form, either in cylinders or non-insulated storage tanks at a pressure of 45-65 bar or refrigerated tanks at temperatures between -35 °C and -15 °C and pressures of 12 to 25 bar. Carbon Capture, Storage and Utilization (CCSU) systems make no exception and usually include a liquefaction unit. 

CO2 is used in numerous applications and with different purposes: either because it is used as a replacement for other gasses (such as nitrogen), either because it is easier to change its state (gaseous to liquid for instance) or as a part of a gas mix. The applications of CO2 compounds are naturally extremely widely varied due to the huge size of this class: hence, only applications of pure carbon dioxide itself will be considered here. Some examples include:

CO2 used in Micro-breweries

Breweries rely on carbon dioxide not just for the bubbles but also for moving beer between tanks or to kegs and canning lines, and to purge oxygen from tanks. Small brewers might lack the resources and scale to make CCUS feasible and therefore need to buy it from external sources.

CO2 used for Production of soda

Carbon dioxide is a great choice for use in soda products as it easily absorbs into a liquid including soft drinks to form tiny bubbles. The CO2 also serves as a blanketing product, that keeps the soft drink fresh and prevents the growth of bacteria in the liquid while stored.

wine fermentationCO2 used for Production of wine

Dissolved CO2 gives a hint of acidness and freshness to a wine. It seems to improve palatability and enhance the flavor. In some wines, such as full-bodied reds, a higher concentration of carbon dioxide may accentuate the harsh character. Generally, white wines are produced with higher CO2 levels than reds.

CO2 used in Slaughterhouses

Carbon dioxide gas is used to induce unconsciousness.

CO2 used for Welding

CO2 is commonly used in MIG welding. Pure carbon dioxide provides very deep weld penetration, which is useful for welding thick material.

CO2 used for Laser therapy (medical)

The CO2 laser is one of the most widely used lasers in the dermatology field, as it delivers excellent treatment of wrinkles, and reduction of problematic pigmented areas.

CO2 used for Laser cutting & Engraving (industrial)

CO2 cutting technology is highly accurate and offers a lot of shaping freedom. This even makes it easy to cut complex shapes.

CO2 used for Cooling (natural refrigerant gas R744 for industrial cooling, heat pumps, etc)

The term R744 refers to carbon dioxide when it is used as natural refrigerant in the refrigeration and air conditioning industry. R744 CO2 has excellent thermodynamic properties and has significant advantages compared to classical and other alternative refrigerants.

co2 extinguishersCO2 used for Fire protection (CO2 extinguishers)

Fire suppression is achieved by reducing the oxygen concentration that will extinguish the fire, while remaining at a level acceptable for human exposure for a short period of time.

CO2 used for Supercritical extraction (essential oils, decaffeinated coffee, etc)

Carbon dioxide is used particularly in the food, beverage, cosmetics and pharmaceutical industry for extracting natural substances, aromas, fats, oils, waxes, polymers, enzymes and colourants in their supercritical physical state.

CO2 used for Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP, meat products for instance)

MAP gas mixtures usually consist of nitrogen (N2), carbon dioxide (CO2) and can contain other gases such as nitrous oxide, argon or hydrogen.

CO2 used in Chemical & petro-chemical industries (neutralization, synthesis, etc)

Carbon Dioxide is commonly used in the neutralization of alkaline influent wastewater and is also a feedstock for the synthesis of fuels and chemicals.

CO2 used in greenhouses

CO2 enrichment in greenhouses allows crops to meet there photosynthesis potential. Enriching the air with carbon dioxide can be done by means of the combustion of natural gas or with liquid CO2. The supply of extra carbon dioxide is an often applied method to increase the yield of greenhouse crops.

CO2 used for Wastewater treatment

When injected directly into wastewater, CO2 causes the formation of carbonic acid, which naturally adjusts the pH to a suitable level. This treatment method is easy to control, and the byproducts it creates are harmless. None of the carbon dioxide is released into the environment.

CO2 used for Haze and fog effects

Liquid CO2 is used to cool theatrical fog produced by the fog machines. In its gaseous state, it serves to accentuate the effect of spotlights.

Air (CO2) pistols and riffles

Well, this one is obvious, right?

A lot of emerging technologies are proposing the use of CO2, some of which could replace hydrocarbons, which is a truly green usage. We therefore foresee a great extension of the above list in the near future.

co2 applications


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