Carbon dioxide supply shortages & DDAC explained

Published on 
December 8, 2022

Businesses all over the world depend on a reliable supply of CO2 to run their operations.

From vertical farms, to greenhouse growers, and drinks producers - they all depend on CO2 imports to make the products we consume on a daily basis. In greenhouses the gas is used as fertilizer to grow food, and in breweries and drinks producers it’s used to carbonate drinks. It’s also used in lots of vital medical and industrial processes, making it a seriously valuable commodity in several sectors. 

But in recent years many businesses have been struggling with surging demand for CO2 and dwindling, or unreliable supply. Some drinks bottling facilities and breweries have even had to close due to the lack of availability.  Often, where CO2 is available it comes at a price premium which cuts into profits. 

But when it comes to carbon dioxide (CO2) climate scientists agree that there is too much in the world’s atmosphere. About 419 parts per million, in fact. All that CO2 is causing dangerous levels of global heating. 

Why then, are so many sectors experiencing CO2 shortages? 

Read on to find out why CO2 shortages occur and how they can be avoided with decentralized direct air capture. 


How shortages and energy prices impact CO2 supply 

The current CO2 shortages started with supply chain issues that began around the time of the Covid-19 pandemic. This was compounded by increased demand for CO2 in a number of essential industries - including vaccine production and storage. 

This has made getting hold of CO2 increasingly difficult.  

The way that greenhouse growers and food and drinks companies source CO2 today has created some intrinsic challenges. 

Companies buy CO2 in tanks that are shipped to them and then used in their operations and processes to create the products they sell. The CO2 they buy is created as a byproduct of fossil fuels, or in some cases ethanol or fertilizer. 

The global energy market has suffered a crunch since 2021 and now, in Europe particularly, a crisis. This has led to high energy prices and additional strain on fossil fuel and natural gas supply chains. 

The price of natural gas largely influences the price of energy. When the market price for fossil fuels is high, so too is the cost of natural gas. This cost gets passed on to companies that require CO2. This means that businesses whose operations rely on carbon dioxide imports are facing tighter margins and seeing their bottomline impacted by the turmoil in the energy markets.

Right now, CO2 shortages are worsening. Geopolitical factors like the war in Ukraine and Russia’s shutting off of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline spell more bad news for global CO2 supplies. 

But there is an alternative way for businesses to source CO2 on their own factory or greenhouse site, with decentralized direct air capture. 


A Secure CO2 Supply for Businesses

Decentralized Direct Air Capture (DDAC) is a relatively newly developed technology that is showing great promise. It gives companies the ability to capture, store and reuse ambient carbon dioxide in their own production and operations by installing a DDAC unit. 

The potential of DAC is huge, with benefits that include cost savings, secure CO2 supply and, on a macro level, cutting out the middleman - fossil fuel producers that currently sell CO2 produced as a byproduct of oil and gas. 

Modular, decentralized DAC units suck carbon out of the atmosphere and store it.  From there it can be used on demand as fertilizer for plants in greenhouses, as a cooling agent in industrial processes, in metal fabrication, or it can be used to carbonate fizzy drinks. 

Rather than relying on a turbulent energy market to secure CO2, with Skytree DDAC systems, businesses can be their own carbon dioxide supplier, by removing it from the air around their site. 


Fully modular units to capture and reuse carbon on-site  

Skytree DDAC units are designed to be fully modular. This means that they don’t need to be a huge factory-size unit. Their size and capacity can scale conveniently to the required CO2 levels - from a small closet-sized unit to a large stackable unit the height and size of a shipping container. DAC units can be mass-manufactured so as companies need to use CO2 increases, they can capture more CO2 to generate pure CO2 onsite by simply adding more units to their existing installation.   

Using Direct Air Capture can save companies money and make their operations more cost-efficient. New research has found that in the future, the price of carbon dioxide could even fall closer to $100 per ton of CO2 with DAC. Though this may take some time to materialize, it still represents a huge cost saving compared to the height of 2022 prices. 

DDAC has the potential to disrupt current CO2 supply chains, end shortages and unpredictable prices and lead to less planet-warming carbon in the atmosphere overall. 

Find out more about Skytree’s modular DAC solutions here.

Estee Chaikin
Estee Chaikin
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