You might hear supercritical carbon dioxide in the manufacturing sector. If you want to know what it is, you can read further. Supercritical carbon dioxide is popular among coffee manufacturers. Coffee manufacturers want to do away with the traditional decaffeinating solvents. Before explaining further, you need to know what supercritical carbon dioxide is.
You should know that it is a fluid state of carbon dioxide. How can it be? Carbon dioxide is a gas but if the standard temperature and pressure is increased, it can be a liquid. Supercritical CO2 is becoming popular as an industrial and commercial solvent because of its function as a chemical extractor. In addition to that, many people are becoming aware of its low environmental impact and toxicity.
So, what are the uses of supercritical CO2? Here are some ideas:
- Solvent: As mentioned earlier, supercritical CO2 is a famous as a decaffeinating solvent. In the past, people were concerned about the real dangers of decaffeinating solvents. Supercritical CO2 presented a solution – it removes or extracts metals and pesticides from crops without spoiling the desired contents or matters of the plant; it is non-flammable and non-toxic. It is also common in dry cleaning, creation of essential oils, steam distillation and many more.
- Engineering: In the fields of engineering, supercritical CO2 also presented solutions. It is low-cost and environmental friendly. For example, it can be a substitute for ceramic and thermoplastic. The creation of foam is also possible with the use of supercritical CO2.
- Working fluid: If put in an industrial setting (like nuclear generation), it can produce thermal efficiencies. This simply means it can generate the electrical power produced. Apart from that, supercritical CO2 is also considered a regular refrigerant used for local heat pumps. Supercritical CO2 can also be found on oil fields because it will boost the recovery of oil in old oil fields.
- Aerogel production: Supercritical CO2 can also be seen in the production of aerogel such as carbon, silica and other metal-based aerogels.
- Sterilization: With the addition of paracetic acid, supercritical CO2 is an effective sterilization agent for medical and biological devices.
There you go. You do not notice it but you are employing the help of supercritical CO2 every day. Here in Singapore, supercritical CO2 is used every day from coffee shops to manufacturing companies. It pays to know. If you want to share this to your fellow Singaporeans, do so. Supercritical CO2 has many applications mentioned above.