This US startup is making vodka from CO2
A drinks startup in New York is hoping to combat CO2 emissions by selling vodka distilled with carbon dioxide instead of yeast.
The spirit made from air contains “no impurities, no carbohydrates, no sugar,” and “no gluten,” and is carbon negative, according to Air Co, a “technology and lifestyle company” in New York, US.
Stafford Sheehan, an electrochemist and co-founder of the project, said his technology is “inspired by photosynthesis” in nature, and uses “carbon dioxide and water along with electricity to create alcohol.”
“[Plants] 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.”
The company captures CO2 emissions from nearby factories to make the spirit, which will be listed at Michelin-starred restaurants in New York such as Eleven Madison Park and Gramercy Tavern.
Sheenan, a chemical physics PhD from Yale University, and fellow founder Gregory Constantine, a former marketing lead at Diageo-owned vodka brand Smirnoff, met during a Forbes Under 30 Summit in 2017, and bonded over their desire to develop a value-driven startup.
“On the side I was working on carbon dioxide conversion and, when we met, I wanted to get more into fighting climate change on a bigger scale than tinkering in a laboratory,” Sheenan told Forbes.
As well as harnessing carbon emissions from local factories (including some distillers), the startup’s technology is also solar-powered. The pair have kept distribution local to minimise their own carbon emissions, and claim theirs is the first “carbon negative” vodka as a result.