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Running out of CO2 – How is this possible?!

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Helene Kinsler Engineering jobs

Are we in for a beer shortage?!

 

How is it possible that we are running out of CO2 when, as humans, we produce it when we breathe out. There are over 660 billion people in the world breathing out CO2, so why the panic about shortage of supply.

Unfortunately, as we know this CO2 is not pure enough to be recycled for use as below, as it also contains Nitrogen, and Argon – I remembered my school Biology.

It is not surprising what we use CO2 for – carbonated drinks; sealed food packages (slows food going off); bolt guns used in slaughter houses, to name a few. It is also needed for certain medical procedures; the manufacture of semiconductor devices and by oil companies to improve the extraction of crude.

A lot of CO2 is created as a by-product from ammonia production that is used in the fertiliser industry. Peak consumption tends to be in the winter, so chemical companies traditionally scale back production during the summer months. CO2 is in short supply because of maintenance shutdowns in production plants across Europe and the globe. It is the case of bad timing that several plants wound down operations throughout Europe, just as demand for food and drink is being ramped up by the good weather and FIFA World Cup.

The impact of the closures and scaling down of production have had an impact globally, from big drinks companies to small bottling firms. Heineken stated that it has been hit with reduced production of John Smiths beer and Amstel, whilst Coca-Cola production has been interrupted until fresh CO2 supplies arrive. Booker Wholesaler, has started rationing customers to 10 cases of beer, and some beer brands have been in short supply or not available recently. And let us not forget the Prosecco. Morrisons supermarket has suspended online deliveries of some frozen foods due to lack of dry ice (created from CO2).

Is there an end in sight? – there have been suggestions that the supplies could start returning to normal by early July – so no panic just yet!

Acknowledgements: BBC News; Recruitment Grapevine