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Your vodka on the rocks could save the planet

16 November 2019 at 12:00 pm
Maggie Coggan
A new American vodka is sucking up as much carbon dioxide as eight fully grown trees   

Maggie Coggan | 16 November 2019 at 12:00 pm


Your vodka on the rocks could save the planet
16 November 2019 at 12:00 pm

A new American vodka is sucking up as much carbon dioxide as eight fully grown trees   

Making vodka from the traditional ingredients of potatoes and grains is officially old news, with a group of American entrepreneurs finding a way to brew an environmentally friendly spirit out of thin air. 

Air Co’s negative carbon vodka is made from just two ingredients – carbon dioxide and water – and uses solar generated electricity to turn carbon from the air into pure ethanol.     

Traditional vodka, which is made by fermenting grains such as corn, potato and wheat, creates around 13 pounds of greenhouse gases to produce. 

The environmental problems with traditional vodka stem from the grain fermentation, with farmers needing to farm thousands of acres of land for the grains. 

Stafford Sheehan, electrochemist and Air Co co-founder, told Fast Company that the process to make the eco-vodka was inspired by photosynthesis in nature, where plants breathe CO2.  

“They take up water, and they use energy in the form of sunlight to make things like sugars and to make other higher-value hydrocarbons, with oxygen as the sole by-product. Same thing with our process: The only by-product is oxygen,” Sheehan said. 

The vodka is also purer than the traditionally brewed spirit because it doesn’t require distillation to remove all the excess grains from the alcohol.  

Gregory Constantine, Air Co co-founder, told CNBC that the company’s long-term goal now the vodka has hit the market, was to release a line of fragrances and home cleaning supplies using pure ethanol made from carbon dioxide in a bid to reduce greenhouse gases.

The vodka is yet to leave New York, with a select number of Brooklyn bars currently serving it up. 

After the holiday season wraps up, the alcohol will be rolled out to select retailers for US$65 (AU$95) a bottle.

Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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