Pulling Vodka From the Air: This Award Winning Carbon-Negative Spirit Comes From Captured CO2
The potential for tapping into humanity’s CO2 emissions as a cheap and free source of carbon and oxygen is on full display with Air Company, a startup that produces premium vodka from deposited atmospheric carbon.
Air Company converts CO2 into ethanol in the same way that plants use photosynthesis. The ethanol, which was originally intended for other purposes, was of such high purity that they decided to make premium spirits instead.
Their bespoke vodka, sold at $75 a bottle at high-end New York City bars before the pandemic began to shut things down, is now back after winning a World Changing Idea Award from Fast Company, who spoke to the founders about their invention.
“We’re doing what we’re doing not just to contribute ourselves to fighting climate change, but to try to help empower other people to fight climate change in the everyday decisions that they make,” said CTO Stafford Sheehan. “And that’s one of the reasons that we target consumer goods.”
Their technology of producing ethanol is now being turned towards the fragrance and perfume sector, another consumer good that needs high-purity ethanol.
Carbon dioxide gets a bad rap for the greenhouse effect it causes in the atmosphere, but the its constituent elements are among the most fundamental building blocks of nature.
If harvested, anthropogenic emissions can be used with modern technology to create practically anything. Air Company tech, thanks to a partnership with NASA, is being used to capture CO2, convert it into ethanol, and then into glucose—a basic sugar molecule that can be used to produce food aboard space ships, including lab grown meat.
These are the dreams of the alchemist’s stone, the transmutation of one kind of matter into an entirely different kind, only instead of gold, it’s booze or lab meat.