You probably know a thing or two about carbon dioxide, but we’d bet this list will surprise you! Here are 6 interesting uses for CO2.
1. Uses for CO2 — Beer
The carbonation in your beer comes from the addition of CO2. Sometimes referred to as “dispense gas” in the bar industry, CO2 is used both to add the suds to your lagers as well as to help push it from the keg to the tap.
For home brewers, you can control how carbonated or flat your beer is simply by altering the temperature and pressure that you’re storing your CO2!
(Now, not all beers use CO2. Certain craft beers, stouts, and “nitros,” like Guinness actually use a special mix of nitrogen. Nitrogen is used to give beer a creamier, smoother texture.)
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2. Uses for CO2 — Growing gardens
Plants need carbon dioxide in order to live. It’s one of the elements needed for photosynthesis, along with sun and water (which you already knew, right?).
Gardeners will often up the levels of CO2 in their greenhouses to promote faster, fuller growth of plants, flowers, fruits, and vegetables. It’s a fine line to walk though — too much CO2 and the crops can wither away. Next time you’re walking in a greenhouse, see if you can spot the CO2 monitor!
Ever suddenly feel tired after spending some time in a greenhouse? That’s an effect of the elevated levels of CO2 in the air!
3. Uses for CO2 — Dry ice
Dry ice IS solidified CO2 gas. That’s why, if you’ve ever had any in your home or in a package, it doesn’t melt into water like regular ice. If it seems to just disappear into thin air, that’s because it does! It’s called sublimation, or the process of a solid turning into a gas without ever liquifying.
4. Uses for CO2 — Preventing asthma attacks
American University did some experiments where they actually “froze” home furniture with CO2 to clean it. They found it to be the most effective method of removing allergens, mites, and other pathogens that cause allergies and asthma attacks.
The research actually makes sense, since CO2 is one of the elements used in the process of dry cleaning.
5. Uses for CO2 — Winemaking
CO2 is actually critical to the process of making wine. Unlike in beer production where it’s used to transfer and carbonate the drink, CO2 is needed for wine in the form of dry ice.
Dry ice is used for refrigerating the harvested grapes to stop fermentation while leaving the sugar content of the grapes intact. If regular ice were used in this process, while it would still achieve the halting of the fermentation process, it would ultimately “water down” the sugar in the grapes themselves. Not good, if you’re a connoisseur of fine wine.
6. Uses for CO2 — Pew Pew! Lasers
CO2 lasers are big, scary effective, and of course, powered by CO2. CO2 can emit high-powered light beams, which makes it perfect for surgeons, welders, and other work that requires cutting or etching.