Think before you drink! (And how in Taiwan the ESS GasTrace does this for you!)
The next time you are enjoying a nice cold sparkling drink, have a think about where those bubbles came from and how they got there. Almost all of us know that it is Carbon Dioxide, a product which is naturally occurring in some drinks (e.g. Champagne), but in others such as colas, lemonades, and sparking water, the CO2 is added to what is a ‘flat’ drink, to give it the fizz.
Have you ever thought about where this CO2 comes from? Many people think it is derived from the air and put into cylinders, in a similar way to Nitrogen or Argon.
Wrong. Deriving CO2 from air is a very costly way of producing this gas, especially when there are much cheaper alternative sources in abundance. So let’s look at the sources of CO2.
The first, and possibly most obvious one, is a by-product of a fermentation process, such as beer production. During the fermentation process, CO2 is given off as a natural off-gas, and is collected and stored. At this stage the gas is classed as ‘dirty’, meaning that it contains a number of impurities.
It is then passed through several stages of filtration and purifying before it is deemed to be fit for human consumption. (Don’t worry … there is a very strict specification for maximum permitted impurity levels before CO2 is deemed fit to be passed as ‘food grade’)
Recovered CO2 from fermentation processes is not as common as one may think. Many breweries do not even collect CO2, they simply ‘buy in’ from an alternative source then add to a flat beer to give it the ‘fizz’.
By far the most common sources of CO2 are derived as a by-product of chemical processes, which are too numerous to list, but common ones are as a by-product of Hydrocarbon production and fertiliser production.
If we take a look at fertiliser production, a common technique is to take natural gas, and pass it through a giant Catalytic converter. This converts the gas to Ammonium Nitrate, or urea, which is the main ingredient of fertiliser. As a by-product, there is literally tonnes of CO2 produced, which is again passed through several filtration and purification stages to remove the impurities and produce ‘food grade’ CO2.
The GasTrace from ESS has the capability to monitor impurities in food grade CO2 down to 1 part per billion (1ppb), and so is capable of measuring different levels throughout the filtration and purification process right through until the finished product, and we have several installations at famous breweries etc throughout the world.
Now, in Taiwan, we’re helping to ensure that fizzy drinks in that country are safe. ESS has just shipped a 20 sample point GasTrace system to a major supplier of food grade CO2 in Taiwan. This instrument automatically switches between sample points, and has the capability to test for up to 64 individual impurities in real time.So the next time you are enjoying a drink, have a think about the CO2 in it and where it came from.
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