Potential Prize for Carbon-to-Vodka Distillers Delayed by Coronavirus

Air Co. is one of the finalists for the Carbon XPRIZE

Air Co. vodka made from carbon emissions
Air Co. makes vodka from thin air — literally.
Air Co.
By Tobias Carroll / March 31, 2020 7:00 am

What if there was a way that you could remove excess carbon dioxide from the air and turn it into excellent vodka in the process? Spoiler alert: There is. Brooklyn distillery Air Co. developed a process by which carbon could be turned into ethanol and subsequently distilled.

Distilleries don’t generally find themselves up for notable science prizes, but Air Co. isn’t a typical distillery. A new article by Christopher Flavelle at The New York Times details how Air Co. found themselves as one of the finalists for the Carbon XPRIZE. Curious as to what that is? Flavelle explains:

The five-year competition, the Carbon X-Prize, was designed to create a financial incentive to capture carbon dioxide and use it profitably, instead of releasing it.

Air Co. is one of 10 teams awaiting the results; the competition is an international affair, with companies from India, the United Kingdom and China all in the running as well, among others. But the announcement of the winner has hit a snag — as is the case with so many things, the coronavirus pandemic has delayed it.

There are pragmatic reasons for this as well. The prize involved the finalists taking their work to sites in Alberta and Wyoming. With coronavirus-related travel restrictions in place, travel for some of the finalists is now impossible, at least for the time being.

As for Air Co., while the bars and restaurants that generally purchase their vodka are closed, they’re doing the same thing as many other distilleries around the country: making their own hand sanitizer. Their current goal? 1,600 bottles.

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At Air Co., it's always been our mission to use technology to change the world for the better, by making goods that do good. It’s at the root of everything we do and the reason we make premium products that reduce carbon from the air. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we want to help our community combat a global threat. As of last week, we temporarily shifted our entire production efforts to make a carbon-negative hand sanitizer. Sanitizer is 80% ethanol, our technology's main output, and we will produce as many bottles as we can during this crisis. Air Co. is proudly made in New York and we are working closely with New York City officials to make sure that every bottle we create is donated to the communities and institutions that need it most. A sincere thanks to everybody for doing their part, in New York City and around the world.

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