What is Carbon Dioxide?
Carbon Dioxide is a gas we all breathe in, but it is also widely used in many industries in concentrated amounts. The food industry uses CO2 for carbonated drinks, the oil industry uses it for Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) and chemical industries for a variety of reasons and in much higher concentrations. It can also be used for refrigeration, food processing or freezing, metalwork, cement production, fertilisers, aerosol manufacturing and breweries. In fact, in both its liquid gas and solid form, CO2 is used extensively in a multitude of industries and as such knowing a bit more about it, how it reacts with our environment and what it can do to us if we are exposed to it is important.
Carbon dioxide is colourless, and at low concentrations, the gas is odourless, but at higher concentrations, it has a sharp, acidic odour. It is heavier than air with a density of around 1.67 times that of air. The average content of CO2 in the air we breathe is approximately 0.041% depending on location. Carbon Dioxide in concentrations that are toxic, so between 1-8%, can have severe effects on the human body from drowsiness and dizziness, visual and hearing dysfunction and at the highest levels, suffocation.
What are the causes of CO2 related incidents?
Poor ventilation is one of the main causes of excessive CO2 concentrations in enclosed spaces. Such is the nature of CO2 these spaces do not have to be small in size. They can be quite large, such as an indoor factory floor space. Because CO2 is heavier than air, in relatively high concentrations and without the dispersing effects of wind, CO2 can collect in sheltered/pocketed locations, especially around machinery where walkways and corridors may be quite narrow and have dead ends. This can be particularly prevalent in the production of carbonated soft drinks and soda water where multiple manufacturing stations are in use. For this reason, it is not only important to have the right gas detection equipment for sensing CO2, but also ensure that the placement of it is appropriate to the working environment.
CO2 in its solid state
In its solid state, carbon dioxide is commonly called dry ice and here is where another processing issue can occur. Some products, and not just food products, need to be transported from place to place using dry ice as a method of cooling, but when they are then put into a refrigeration unit where the temperature is usually above dry ice’s solid deposit threshold (−78.5 °C) the dry ice can effectively ‘melt’ in the refrigeration unit hence returning to its CO2 gaseous state. If operators are working in these conditions in larger refrigeration units or portable refrigeration units, the presence of high levels of CO2 can be extremely dangerous and needs continuous monitoring. This is in addition to the monitoring of any refrigerant gases present that have the potential to leak.
How can we help?
There are a number of methods for measuring CO2 both directly and indirectly, and GfG Europe can advise you on both methods and best practices for your particular requirement. We can recommend the right equipment needed to protect your business and workforce as well as a 24-hour alarm monitoring service, training, servicing and ongoing support.
Contact our team of experts today for help and advice. http://gfgeurope.co.uk/contact