Carbon dioxide, or CO2, is a gas made of one carbon and two oxygen atoms. It is a gas that everyone exhales, and is found in the atmosphere. Plants use this gas to breathe, and it is a vital part of life. But did you know that CO2 also plays a significant role in many industries, including manufacturing and medicine? Here are five surprising uses for CO2:
CO2 is used to manufacture certain types of candy. Pop Rocks are a particular type of candy that is actually carbonated. Carbon dioxide is added during the melting process to pressurize the candy before it cools. As the hard candy is placed on the tongue and allowed to melt, the carbon dioxide gets released and creates the popping sensation, like bubbles in soda.
Do you ever wonder how they make decaf? The decaffeinated coffee found in grocery stores is produced using a method called supercritical fluid extraction. In this process, supercritical carbon dioxide is pumped into a vessel containing coffee beans. At this state, CO2 acts as a solvent and absorbs the caffeine from the beans. The CO2 is pumped back out of the vessel, taking all the caffeine with it. All that remains in the vessel is decaffeinated coffee.
Welds are made with shielding gases. These shields allow welders to produce clean, strong welds. Carbon dioxide mixed with argon is the most common shield gas used by welders. Carbon dioxide and argon protect the weld from exposure to reactive gases like oxygen and nitrogen. If the weld comes into contact with oxygen, it turns brown, splatters, and becomes weakened.
Laparoscopic surgery is a procedure in which surgeons make several small incisions in the abdomen, instead of one large incision. Doctors then use instruments, scopes, and cameras to guide them during the procedure. To help them see with the camera, carbon dioxide is pumped into the abdomen. This allows muscle, fat, and other tissue to separate from the organs and give the surgeon more room to work.
5. Water Treatment
Carbon dioxide can be used to control the pH of drinking water. During the water treatment process, the pH of drinking water can be affected by the addition of chlorine. Chlorine is necessary to kill any pathogens that are present in the water. So, to bring the pH back to normal, water treatment plants add carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is ideal for drinking water because it will not affect the hardness of the water, or give it a strange taste or smell.
Carbon dioxide is a versatile gas that is used in many industries. Were you surprised by these five uses of CO2? To learn more, try contacting a company like Terry Supply Co. if you have other questions.