Liquid and Compressed Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

Many know carbon dioxide (CO2) as a product of combustion, as an essential component of photosynthesis, a plant’s ability to change carbon dioxide and water to glucose and oxygen in the presence of light, and the stuff that provides “carbonation” to soft drinks, beer and sparkling wines.

But where does purified carbon dioxide originate? With all the attention around climate change and the part that carbon dioxide plays in that process, you might think that atmospheric extraction makes sense. As it turns out, atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide average less than 450 parts per million, making that process not very cost-effective and highly inefficient Also, natural fermentation may work in a wine bottle and brewing tank, but that process is difficult to replicate on a large-scale basis, is not very efficient and costs too much on a larger scale. No, almost all the purified carbon dioxide that available on the market today is a byproduct of chemical manufacturing, oil refining and natural gas purification.

Carbon dioxide is a slightly acidic, nonflammable gas that is colorless and odorless 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 known as an “active gas” in shielding the arc in gas metal arc welding (GMAW / MIG welding) either used in isolation 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 create “dry ice” blocks and nuggets used for temporary refrigeration.

Higher purities of carbon dioxide, from Dry to Ultra High Purity and Research Grades are used in laser cutting and marking operations, spanning everything from medical devices to steel fabrication. Growers apply controlled amounts of CO2 to improve 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 Atlanta, GA experts on hand to answer questions about carbon dioxide can be really helpful. Give them a call today at Sidney Lee Medical & Scientific Gases at 770-946-4287 or contact us online.