Innovation That Matters

Carbon dioxide collectors at the Climeworks Plant | Photo source Julia Dunlop

Company recycles CO2 into soft drinks

Food & Drink

The process uses carbon dioxide collectors, which can be powered using renewable energy

Spotted: We have previously covered Climeworks, the innovative Swiss company that has developed a practical way to remove carbon dioxide from the air. But the question facing the company was then how to recycle that excess CO2 in order to cut the cost of removing it from the atmosphere. Recently, Climeworks has hit on a new idea for this – use the CO2 to make soft drinks.

Climeworks uses carbon dioxide collectors, which can be powered using renewable energy. A fan pushes air through filters in the collectors, where CO2 molecules are trapped. Once the filters are saturated, the collectors are heated to 1,000 degrees Celsius to remove the pure carbon and release the oxygen.  

As Climeworks technology is very expensive, the key to its widespread adoption is to offset the cost by finding ways to sell the excess carbon. Climeworks’ first customers were commercial greenhouses, which use the excess CO2 to speed the growth of plants such as tomatoes and cucumbers. However, much of the carbon ended up mixed with water and pumped deep underground, where it eventually reacts with other natural compounds to form carbonite, a form of coal which may or may not contain Han Solo. 

Climeworks has more recently been selling its technology to plants that can use the CO2 in food and beverage processing. This includes the carbonating of soft drinks, the use of CO2 as a carrier gas in bars and restaurants for draft beer, its ability to keep food fresh as an inert gas in packaging, and as a source of dry ice, which is frozen CO2. Using a Climeworks plant, bottling companies can generate high purity CO2 on-site, literally out of thin air, with no supply chain required.

The growing need to reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere has led to a number of exciting innovations. In addition to Climeworks, Springwise has spotted CO2 being turned into vodka, jewellery and even protein powder.

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