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Beer bubbles from thin air: Tech pulls carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere

The fizz in your favorite ale might one day come from the air around the brewery.

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Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization  research scientist Aaron Thornton poses with the Airthena unit.

CSIRO

Carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere is on the rise. What if we could harness some of this greenhouse gas for the greater good, like putting bubbles into beer?

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Australia's national science agency, talked up a new technology called Airthena in a release this week. "Airthena captures CO2 directly from the air using tiny sponges known as metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), and can be scaled up for commercial production," CSIRO said.

The Airthena unit can pull carbon dioxide from the air.

CSIRO

Airthena opens up the possibility of small-scale CO2 production on site. This could be useful for everything from beverage carbonation (yes, beer) to greenhouses. 

The innovation could offer a low-cost alternative to the production and transportation of carbon dioxide using current methods.

This tech isn't the answer to our growing greenhouse-gas problem, though. "While Airthena won't make any immediate impact on cutting global CO2 emissions due to its scale, it will help businesses with a more reliable source of the gas for their everyday operations, while reducing their carbon footprint," CSIRO said.

CSIRO project lead Aaron Thornton said the next steps for Airthena are to reduce the cost of the unit for small-scale use and to test it to meet food-quality standards. CSIRO is also interested in scaling the technology up for larger operations.

If a brewery ends up adopting Airthena, then it would open up some fabulous possibilities for beer names, like Air Ale, Greenhouse Gose or Diox Dubbel.

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