New York City startup Air Co. produces alcohol from captured CO2 and green hydrogen. It calls its vodka the world’s most sustainable spirit. The firm also makes hand sanitizer, and it just launched a perfume.
Air Vodka with Natural Flavors is made of air, water, and sun. The conventional production of one bottle of the spirit results in carbon dioxide emissions of 5.9 kilograms, while Air Co. claims its product is carbon negative and removes 450 grams of greenhouse gas from the atmosphere.
Like with the diamonds that a firm called Aether is making from CO2 sequestered from the air, people can now enjoy a high-end drink and help fight climate change.
Making vodka from thin air
Air Co., based in New York City, was founded in 2019 with a vision to address climate change with carbon removal technology. The company produces the alcohol for its vodka in a so-called carbon conversion reactor, where it mixes CO2 with green hydrogen.
Chemical reactions create ethanol (C2H5OH), methanol (CH3OH), water (H2O), and oxygen – O2, which are then separated. According to the engineers, 1.5 kilograms of CO2 is removed per kilogram of alcohol in the process.
The CO2 that the company uses is captured during production in the traditional fermentation and ethanol industry
Air vodka consists of 40% ethanol, and 60% water and its creators claim there are no impurities. They recommend it to be served on the rocks or in a martini, which they call Airtini. The 750-milliliter bottles are sold for up to USD 80 apiece.
For now, the CO2 is supplied by traditional fermentation and ethanol plants, which capture it so that it isn’t emitted into the atmosphere, but the compound can also be sequestered from the air. The green hydrogen is produced from water by electrolysis with electricity from solar power plants.
From hand sanitizer to perfume to space travel
The startup doesn’t stop there. It says sustainable materials are used wherever possible. The labels on the products are 100% biodegradable and with vegetable ink, printed using renewable energy and recycled water. Boxes and bottles were designed to be given a second life beyond their initial use, Air Co. adds.
The company has just launched a fragrance that it called Air Eau de Parfum. Its other product is a hand sanitizer. But Air Co. has much higher ambitions as it is developing automotive and rocket fuel. It recently won a prize from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for converting CO2 into sugars that can potentially be used by people on Mars to produce medicine, fuel, and food.