Startup Creates Vodka Out Of Thin Air Using CO2


Air Co. is a Brooklyn-based startup that claims to have developed the world’s first ‘negative carbon vodka.’ Air Co. claims to have done this by capturing carbon dioxide from the air and then using a solar-powered machine for transforming it into ethanol.

As per Gregory Constantine, who is the co-founder of Air Co., each bottle of carbon-negative vodka pulls out a pound of carbon dioxide from the air during its entire life cycle. This is the equivalent of eight full-grown trees. As opposed to the traditional vodka, carbon-negative by Air Co. is created by fermenting starch-rich grains such as wheat or potatoes in a process that produced 13 pounds of greenhouse gases. Air Co. vodka is created using only carbon dioxide and water, and the production process can actually remove carbon dioxide from the air.

Stafford Sheehan, who is also the co-founder of Air Co., said that the process utilized for the creation of this vodka was ‘inspired by photosynthesis in nature, where plants breathe in 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.’

Air Co. makes use of a small and solar-powered machine for pulling CO2 from the air, thus making sure that the gas can be broken down into carbon and oxygen. These separated molecules are then mixed together with water while introducing a metal-based catalyst for creating pure ethanol. Sheehan explained, ‘Following conversion, we distill the 10% ethanol to 96.5% in a custom-built, 18-plate vodka still followed by additional proprietary, trade-secret processes to purify and dilute the ethanol to a 40% alcohol-by-volume vodka.’ Afterward, the water is then removed via distillation.

As of right now, the company is only releasing its unique and creative product in a select few bars and restaurants across New York City with a price tag of $65 per bottle. However, it does have plans for expanding distribution to other retailers in 2020.