Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Liquid Carbon Dioxide
Name:   Jason B.
Status:   other
Age:   30s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 1999-2001

Why is liquid carbon dioxide used in the beverage carbonation process?

Liquid CO2 can be stored at ambient conditions under moderate pressure (critical temperature = 31 C; critical pressure = 73 atm). As a result, 44gm of CO2 (its molecular weight) when evaporated produces 22.4 liters of gas at STP. In addition, being a liquid it can be pumped around etc. In contrast solid CO2 (dry ice) must be stored at low temperature and it is a hard "chunk". So the use of liquid CO2 is just a matter of efficiency -- a way to store large quantities of CO2 in a form that is easy to handle.

Vince Calder

What else would you use? Liquid carbon dioxide can be very conveniently stored and transported in metal cylinders at normal room temperature. It's more compact than the gas; in fact, if you compress the gas at constant room temperature it will eventually condense to the liquid. The solid is more difficult to work with, because you'd have to keep it cold for storage and then warm it up for the carbonation process.

Richard E. Barrans Jr., Ph.D.
Assistant Director
PG Research Foundation, Darien, Illinois

Jason B.,

Liquid carbon dioxide is used in the beverage industry as a taste enhancer and for a sparkling aura in the looks of the beverage in question. I hope that this answers your question.


Bob Trach

Click here to return to the General Topics Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory