Fizzy beverage technology developed by CSIRO

Friday, 07 February, 2020

Fizzy beverage technology developed by CSIRO

CSIRO has found a way to pull carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the atmosphere and put it into beer and other beverages.

CO2 is in global demand for a range of applications, including making fizzy beverages and food packaging. While CO2 levels in the atmosphere continue to rise, there have been shortages in industrial supplies of the gas over the past decade, and this has had an impact on the beverage industry.

The new CSIRO technology is called Airthena, and was developed in partnership with Monash University, Energy Infrastructure and Resources, and H2H Energy. While Airthena won’t make any immediate impact on cutting global CO2 emissions due to its scale, it is designed to help businesses with a more reliable source of the gas for their everyday operations, while reducing their carbon footprint.

The technology works by capturing CO2 directly from the air using tiny sponges known as metal–organic frameworks (MOFs), and can be scaled up for commercial production.  

CSIRO project lead Aaron Thornton (pictured) said the solution draws on recent breakthroughs in advanced filtration methods and had broad applications across a wide range of industries.

“As it requires just air and electricity to work, Airthena offers a cost-effective, efficient and environmentally friendly option to recycle CO2 for use onsite, on demand,” Dr Thornton said. 

“It also provides a more reliable source of CO2 for use in small-scale applications ranging from beverage carbonation to controlling pH in swimming pools and industrial cleaning.”

The unit only needs about 2 kWh of electricity per kilogram of CO2, equal to around 20c/kg at minimum solar energy prices of $0.1/kWh at its current scale. 

The technology is capable of capturing two tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere a year, making it suitable for small-scale applications right now, but Dr Thornton says it is scalable.

“We are now exploring options for taking Airthena to market, which include reducing the cost of the unit for small-scale applications and having it tested to ensure it meets food quality standards, or working with the food production industry to scale up the technology for larger applications,” Dr Thornton said.

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