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Net Zero by Narsi is a series of brief posts by Narasimhan Santhanam (Narsi), on decarbonization and climate solutions.
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Capturing CO2 from wine and beer fermentation

Our atmospheric air currently has a CO2 concentration of about 415 PPM (parts per million, by volume) – for those curious, you can see what it is today from here –

When you realize that 1000 PPM would be 0.1% (1000/1000000), you get an idea of what a small proportion of air is CO2 (0.04%), and how even even this itsy-bitsy portion is capable of creating so much trouble.

Now, the Direct Air Capture efforts being attempted are trying to capture this weeny bit of CO2 from the air. Imagine trying to capture a very small speck of oil – less than a thousandth of total by volume – from a large vessel full of water, and you can get a feel of how difficult and energy consuming such a process would be.

But for all its quixotic aims, direct air capture is perhaps still worth trying if we are not able to decrease the CO2 concentration in the air by any other means – far better being a Don Quixote than Dead as the Dodo, wouldn’t you agree?

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While that’s the story on one side, there are point sources where concentrated CO2 is available. Power plants are one such example that have 4-15% of CO2 concentrations, depending on whether it is a coal power plant (12-15%) or natural gas power plant (3-5%) – a lot better than 0.04% in air. And power plants are one of the largest contributors to CO2 emissions worldwide. So it should be no surprise that many efforts are ongoing to capture CO2 from power plant flue gases, but even this level of concentration requires considerable amounts of energy & resources/chemicals.

And then there are industrial processes that emit CO2 with a concentration of 99%, yes, almost pure CO2. You can capture it, and after a bit of polishing, pretty much add it to your fizz. In most industrial fermentation processes, you get 990,000 ppm of CO2 – compare 99% with 0.04% in the air around us.

The most prominent fermentation industries are breweries and wineries.

While some breweries are capturing the CO2 and using it internally for carbonating their beer (the fizz) or selling it in the market (CO2 has over a dozen different uses), many others are yet to capture CO2 as it is expensive to put up CO2 capture & storage facilities.

But as the cost of CO2 emissions go up and the avenues to monetize CO2 increase, breweries and wineries are waking up. Besides, unless their beer carries the label “Booze in peace. CO2 on a leash” the drink simply may not sell.

Emissions from alcohol fermentation constitute a small portion of the overall CO2 emissions globally, but if CO2 becomes a valuable commodity, and if using CO2 makes them look great, why would everyone not do it!

Here’s an interesting first hand report from a winery owner on the CO2 opportunity –

More on CO2 to Value from CLIMAX –

SevenFifty | SevenFifty Daily

See my LinkedIn post on this topic

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About Narasimhan Santhanam (Narsi)

Narsi, a Director at EAI, Co-founded one of India's first climate tech consulting firm in 2008.

Since then, he has assisted over 250 Indian and International firms, across many climate tech domain Solar, Bio-energy, Green hydrogen, E-Mobility, Green Chemicals.

Narsi works closely with senior and top management corporates and helps then devise strategy and go-to-market plans to benefit from the fast growing Indian Climate tech market.


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