Liquid and Compressed Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

A number of people know carbon dioxide (CO2) as a result of combustion, as an critical ingredient in photosynthesis, a plant’s ability to convert carbon dioxide and water to glucose and oxygen in the presence of light, and the gas that provides “carbonation” to soft drinks, beer and sparkling wines.

But where does purified carbon dioxide start? With all the attention around climate change and the part that carbon dioxide plays in that process, you might think that atmospheric extraction would be the easiest way to do it. As it turns out, atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide average less than 450 parts per million, making that process nowhere near efficient nor effective Likewise, natural fermentation may work in a wine bottle and brewing tank, but that process doesn’t have much upscale potential. No, almost all the purified carbon dioxide that enters the market today is a byproduct of chemical manufacturing, oil refining and natural gas purification.

Carbon dioxide is an odorless, colorless, nonflammable slightly acidic gas and, because it is available on such a large scale, has many uses in a variety of industries. The food industry uses CO2 in food freezing, carbonated beverage manufacturing and modified atmosphere packaging. Carbon dioxide is considered an “active gas” in shielding the arc in gas metal arc welding (GMAW / MIG welding) either by itself or in mixtures of argon and helium. Its acidic properties mixed with water make it a good water treatment additive for pH control. Liquid Carbon Dioxide is also expanded in specialized equipment to generate “dry ice” blocks and nuggets used for temporary refrigeration.

Higher purities of carbon dioxide, from Dry to Ultra High Purity and Research Grades are applied in laser cutting and marking operations, spanning everything from medical devices to steel fabrication. Growers use measured amounts of CO2 to enhance fertilizers in greenhouse operations. High purity CO2 is generally used as an oxygen-free atmosphere for anaerobic incubation, and in the preparation of special application mixtures for blood gas monitoring.

With all these applications, having local Western Michigan experts on hand to answer questions about carbon dioxide can be really helpful. Give them a call today at GTW at 616-754-6120 or contact us online.