How This Startup Is Turning CO2 Into Planet-Friendly ‘Air Vodka’

3 Mins Read

One startup is busy making vodka to save the planet. Yes, you read that correctly. Based in New York, the company is capturing carbon dioxide emissions from the air and making drinks that could help fight climate change. 

Air Company is making vodka from thin air. According to the New York startup, its Air Vodka actually removes 450 grams of GHG emissions, making it “carbon negative”, compared to conventionally-made spirits which leave behind 5.9 kilograms per bottle. 

Air Vodka

The product contains 40% ethanol and 60% water. It can be enjoyed just like any other vodka, with Air Company recommending it served on the rocks or whipped up in a martini or “Airtini”. Each 750 millilitre bottle of its climate-friendly vodka is currently retailed for around $80. 

You might be wondering, how is air vodka made? The exact process that the startup uses involves capturing CO2 from traditional fermentation and industrial alcohol plants before it is released into the atmosphere.

This CO2 comes in tanks after it has been cooled, pressurised, and liquified. Its electrolyzer then splits water into hydrogen and oxygen, with the former being fed into its carbon conversion reactor system with the captured CO2. 

In the system, which is powered by renewable solar energy, Air Company produces impurity-free alcohol, which then gets turned into spirits like vodka. 

How does it taste? According to GQ Magazine, it’s “almost like water” and is “clean and crisp like a shard of light”. 

Going beyond drinks: Air Eau de Parfum

But vodka isn’t the only thing that Air Company is making out of thin air. The firm, which has been featured as a finalist in XPRIZE for its carbon negative vodka invention, says its mission is to create an entire line of “products that help shape our future”. 

One of them is perfume. It recently launched its first fragrance, Air Eau de Parfum, which smells like orange peel, fig leaves, jasmine, and violet. The other product is a hand sanitiser, launched last year in the early days of the pandemic. 

Ultimately, Air Company has ambitions to use its technology to develop everything from air-captured jet fuel to even CO2-based sugars that can be used in space to produce food and medicines. 

“The goal for us has always been to use these products in our own internal research and development for the company, but as beacons for people to show you that you can make these really sustainable products that people use every day in their lives,” co-founder and CEO Gregory Constantine shared with Fast Company.

“Where we’re able to have [a] real impact on CO2 reduction, from an emissions reduction point of view, is when we’re able to then implement it into big business and into their pipelines as well.”

Other companies that are also making CO2-based planet-friendly products include Newlight Technologies, which is now partnered with Nike to create sneakers from carbon sequestered raw materials, and Twelve, whose CO2-based lenses now feature in Pangaia’s new collection of sunglasses. 

All images courtesy of Air Company.


  • Sally Ho

    Sally Ho is Green Queen's former resident writer and lead reporter. Passionate about the environment, social issues and health, she is always looking into the latest climate stories in Hong Kong and beyond. A long-time vegan, she also hopes to promote healthy and plant-based lifestyle choices in Asia. Sally has a background in Politics and International Relations from her studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

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