Monday, June 5, 2023

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Take a Sip of the ‘World’s First’ Carbon-Negative Spirit


Air Company makes its sustainable vodka directly from carbon dioxide captured from the air.

Drinking responsibly just got easier thanks to one Brooklyn-based technology company. Air Company, which makes vodka out of thin air—literally—has secured $30 million in funding to ramp up production of its sustainable spirits.

The Series A funding round was backed by Toyota Ventures, JetBlue Technology Ventures, and Parley for the Oceans, an environmental non-profit organization. 

Founded in 2017, Air Company uses its innovative carbon utilization technology to create carbon-negative, ethanol-based products. The brand made its debut in 2019 with the launch of the “world’s first” spirit made from carbon dioxide. The brand has since released other carbon-derived products, including a hand sanitizer, called Air Spray, and a fragrance, Air Eau de Parfum. But don’t be surprised by their hefty price tags. The latter, which is available for pre-order and ships later this year, goes for $220.

​​“When we’re producing things on such a small scale, it ends up being really expensive for us,” Gregory Constantine, the company’s CEO and co-founder, told Hypebest. “Our goal is to bring the price down on all of our products so that they are readily accessible, not only across the U.S. but also around the world.”

Air Company has raised nearly $40 million in funding altogether. The most recent round will go towards scaling production of its proprietary carbon conversion technology, including opening a third production facility. 

Currently, the company has an ideation and innovation hub—called the Air Innovation Centre—located in Brooklyn. It also has an Air Lab in Princeton, New Jersey, which focuses on research and development. Its third facility, called Air Factory 1, will be located in Brooklyn and will house the company’s largest commercial-scale carbon utilization system to date.

Making vodka out of thin air

Care for a shot of the “world’s most sustainable spirit”? Vodka made directly from carbon dioxide may sound futuristic, but Air Vodka is already readily available at various bars, restaurants, online retailers, and liquor stores across New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Miami.

Made from a combination of 40 percent ethanol and 60 percent water, it’s “clean and crisp with a smooth finish.” Hand-bottled in Brooklyn, the alcoholic beverage isn’t the only thing that’s sustainable. Its label is 100 percent biodegradable and features a vegetable ink printed using renewable energy and recycled water. The labels are secured to the bottles using non-toxic glue, and the bottles and boxes they come in are recyclable.

The conventional process of distilling alcohol releases emissions into the air. Drinking a double shot of vodka roughly equates to driving a car for a little over half a mile. But Air Company’s process makes use of carbon already in the air. Hydrogen, which is created on-site, and the captured carbon is fed into the brand’s patented Carbon Conversion Reactor system causing a reaction that turns the gases into ethanol, methanol, and water. Then, the company’s distillation process, which is powered by renewable energy, separates the ethanol from the water and methanol.

According to Air Company, its products have the potential to mitigate 10.8 percent of all global carbon dioxide emissions. This equates to roughly 4.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year.

“We work with partners that capture that carbon dioxide before it’s emitted into the atmosphere, and then we use that CO2 in our process in creating the alcohols that we create,” said Constantine. “It’s obviously far better for the planet in that we’re removing CO2 for every bottle that we’re creating.”

What’s next for Air Company

Air Company already has its eyes set on other verticals—namely the industrial and aerospace sectors—with carbon-negative products like jet and rocket fuel.

“Our goal is to integrate our carbon utilization technology into every applicable sector to help combat the climate catastrophe,” explained Constantine in a press release.

“We’ll achieve this mission by providing people with a highly attractive array of products made from captured carbon and working with businesses to integrate our technology into their industries, maximizing the amount of CO2 we can utilize each year,” he added. “If we can contribute to the protection of our planet through the advancement of technology and innovation, then we are doing our job.” 

Want to sip on some more sustainable spirits? Click here for a list of eco distilleries and brewers.


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