Meet the Vodka Brand That’s Turning Air Pollution into Alcohol

Air Vodka bills itself as the first-ever carbon-negative spirit

Photo: Courtesy Air Vodka

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The best vodka is all about purity, removing all the undesirable stuff until you have something pristine. One new brand is taking that idea beyond the liquid inside the bottle, and focusing on removing harmful pollution from the environment, too. Air Vodka claims to be the first carbon-negative spirit on the market and infuses every part of the product with sustainable thinking.

A lot of corporate carbon footprint claims rely on carbon offset credits – which aren’t always quite as helpful to the planet as the concept suggests. While those sequestration credits might make for a nice line in the marketing materials, they often simply act as cover for companies to go on doing business in the same old way as ever, without making their production any more environmentally sound.

Air Vodka is quick to point out that is not how they came about their ‘carbon-negative’ boast. Instead, their vodka basically is a carbon sequestration project all on its own. The spirit itself is created by capturing CO2 and converting it into ethanol. The process is similar in some ways to the lab-grown ‘vegan diamonds’ created from atmospheric carbon.

“Our technology uses only air, water, and sunlight as inputs,” reads a statement on the Air Company website. “It starts by using captured carbon dioxide from absorption-based air capture technology and generating electricity from sunlight using solar energy to power our conversion system. Our conversion system breaks apart the captured carbon dioxide along with water over our proprietary catalysts and reforms them to produce alcohol, with oxygen as the only byproduct. This process has net-negative carbon emissions, removing one and a half kilograms of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere per kilogram of alcohol produced in a complete life cycle analysis.”

Air Company makes that resulting alcohol available for industrial applications like perfumes and hand sanitizers, and notes that it could eventually be adapted for automotive fuel or to power space travel. In August, the company even won the NASA Centennial Challenge Prize for work in converting CO2 into sugars that can be made into medicine and food by astronauts on a mission to Mars.

The base alcohol they keep for themselves gets transformed into Air Vodka, which the company pitches as “the world’s cleanest, highest quality, and most sustainable spirit.” The vodka is gluten-free, sugar-free, and impurity-free. Even its handsome bottle is thoughtful: Recyclable glass, labeled with non-toxic glues and stickers printed with vegetable ink, sealed with a compostable cellulose-based wrapper.


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