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A carbon-negative vodka company makes its beverage literally out of thin air

A carbon-negative vodka company makes its beverage literally out of thin air

๐Ÿน The chemist Stafford Sheehan worked on artificial photosynthesis that creates renewable fuel made from air. One of the fuels he was making was ethanol.

Mathias Sundin
Mathias Sundin

๐Ÿน The chemist Stafford Sheehan worked on artificial photosynthesis that creates renewable fuel made from air. One of the fuels he was making was ethanol.

Together with Vodka company Smirnoff he is now launching Air, a vodka created out of the air, and sucking up greenhouse gases in the process.

In 2017, Stafford Sheehan was a chemist working on artificial photosynthesis, coming up with metal-based catalysts thatโ€™d mimic the way living things acquire energy from the Sun.

Sheehan had an invention, a box that could electrolyze a burst of carbon dioxide and a dose of water. Run all that over a metal catalyst to goose a biochemical reaction, and, presto: renewable fuel made from air.

One of the fuels he was making was ethanol, C2H6O, a molecule you might also recognize as the thing that makes you drunk. โ€œI had taken to purifying the ethanol that I pulled out of our little electrolyzer, and I made a few beverages out of it,โ€ Sheehan says. โ€œIt was always kind of a joke. Me and the other scientists in the lab would be like, โ€˜Letโ€™s distill some of this and drink it at the party tonight.โ€™ It was like a gag.โ€

Then Sheehan met Greg Constantine, a music promoter working for Smirnoffโ€”the vodka labelโ€ฆ

What Constantine and Sheehan realized was that with some tweaks, they could take that ethanol output and turn it into something people would pay good money to drink: a high-end vodka that goes on sale today, called Air.

A vodka whose manufacturing process also slurped planet-killing greenhouse gas out of the atmosphere.

Bottoms up!

News tips from Magnus Aschan.

Read more: Wired

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