What does the European CO2 shortage mean for food and beverage?
Monday, July 09, 2018
It’s horrible timing for Europe. The entire continent is running low on beer supplies due to a carbon dioxide (CO2) shortage. In the U.K., where the problem is the worst, it comes just as millions flock to pubs to watch England’s World Cup run.
Food-grade CO2 is often a byproduct of ammonia from fertilizer plants. The closure of European fertilizer plants that produce ammonia has led to the lack of CO2 in the U.K. and Europe.
If the crisis deepens, the CO2 shortage could affect other industries beyond food and beverage. Oil, healthcare and semiconductor devices may be most affected.
The shortage has affected import and export situations as well. Cheaper ammonia production in Asia has made it harder for European producers to make a profit.
Importing CO2 is not cost-effective, either. The only way to get out of this quandary is to look for new technologies like carbon capture on power plants.
Apart from beer, the CO2 crisis has also affected supermarket supplies in the continent. The Food and Drink Federation of the U.K. has warned consumers to expect a dearth in their food choices, as carbon dioxide has many uses in the food and beverage industry.
A soda shortage is looming as well. Most of us know that CO2 is used to put the fizz in carbonated drinks.
It is also used in packaging to give specific food items a longer shelf life and is needed to create dry ice, which is extensively used in the food industry. It’s also used to stun farm animals, although this shortage may be an impetus for changing that.
On the beverage side, the disruption in beer production has had ripple effects. The bottling side of microbreweries, cask beer makers and bars are all affected.
Meanwhile, there is growing interest in the U.S. about carbon technology and game-changing scientific inventions that utilize carbon dioxide waste for various industries.
Oil companies inject about 70 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into oilfields in the U.S. every year. While the CO2 shortage may not affect the country yet, the focus on innovative technologies shows that the industry is getting ready for the future.
Carbon tech research conducted by U.S. scientists could aid in finding solutions that utilize carbon dioxide waste for various industries.
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