Sustainability: The process, supply and use of carbon dioxide

The Bomaderry Plant is important, on the realisation of the overall positive impact in reducing Supagas emission footprint.

Over the past several years, the Bomaderry Plant in partnership with Manildra has greatly changed the pace of the gas industry and across products like Carbon Dioxide (CO₂).

The process of sourcing material, supplying and servicing various industries, overall, gas plays a pivotal role.

Supagas explores ways to source a clean and reliable supply of CO₂ for the Australian market and Supagas customers. The topic continues to be an important issue for gas suppliers in Australia, like Supagas.

The beginning to now: Supagas and Manildra

At Supagas, the previous method of burning natural gas to produce CO₂ was the main option for Supagas in the past. However, with the increasing price of natural gas and concerns towards the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, Supagas identified a way to better source CO₂.

Manildra was introduced to the Supagas team at the right time, as an Australian producer of food products including protein, fats, wheat and syrups. One of the by-products that was most valuable for Supagas was ethanol. The ability to have a large source that would produce the level of CO₂ required, Supagas needed a facility that was reliable and could support the manufacturing process. 

The project took several months to complete with building taking place off site and final assembly of the Plant on site. The Plant was built at Manildra Shoalhaven Starched integrated manufacturing facility in Bomaderry, NSW. Since the launch of the Bomaderry CO₂ Plant in 2019, five years later, the results can be seen, as the notion was to develop a source that was long term and sustainable to help with the environment and reduce costs. In addition, to meet growing consumer demand for CO₂ within in the market.

The process of CO2

The process to produce CO₂ starts at the fermentation stage such as wheat, where Manildra is left with the by-product ethanol, which is important for Supagas, because this is where the CO₂ is around 90 per cent pure.

The ethanol is captured as a by-product through a blower and cold-water scrubber which dehumidifies the CO₂ and removes the remaining alcohol. The blower will then push the CO₂ gas through the underground pipelines which funnels into another processing Plant. The CO₂ gas will then go through a range of processes and a compressor, which will raise the gas pressure. The CO₂ will also filter through a Catox, to remove all impurities and leave only pure CO₂.

The CO₂ is then dried and liquified, so it can be turned into Food Grade CO₂ to be used in Supagas’ market ready products. As you may know, CO₂ is versatile in nature, offering different forms including solid (i.e., Dry Ice), liquid and gas. 

Supplying the gas solution

The process of sourcing, converting and effectively supplying the market with CO₂ is important. Industries including the production of food and beverages, CO₂ plays a key role in the Beverage industry for the carbonation of beer and drinks for venues and manufacturers, to provide the fizz in every glass. In the wine industry, CO₂ is used for the fermentation process to the extent of controlling the flavour and acidity levels of the wine to give consumers a quality finished product. 

In addition, Dry Ice is a product Supagas offers for varying applications and uses, for example the cold chain will use Dry Ice for freezing food and for the transportation process to keep goods cold. Dry ice is a great product as there is minimal to no waste left behind compared to gel packages. 

Dry Ice, manufactured from CO₂ for the food packaging and processing industry, as SupaMap gases are used across varying businesses and client bases to maintain shelf life and food freshness. Businesses vary in size, with larger manufacturers and facilities utilising pack or bulk forms to ensure sufficient gas supply onsite for the production of goods.

The future: Sustainability

The Bomaderry Plant is important, on the realisation of the overall positive impact in reducing Supagas emission footprint. The Plant sought to reduce emissions on a yearly basis of an estimated 18,000 tonnes of CO₂ forecasted to double overtime that would not be released into the atmosphere.

It is important to look at the supply chain from beginning to end and the impact of how products such as CO₂ are produced, the environmental impact to the delivery of products to customers and businesses. The benefits of the Bomaderry Plant outweigh the costs, as it is a sustainable alternative in reducing waste and direct emissions into the atmosphere. The circular system is environmentally friendly in its operation and output, as the material produced has multiple uses. For example, the syrup and gluten are used to produce ethanol which creates the CO₂, therefore, reducing waste.

A high level of water is also left during the process as waste that is removed. However, the excess of wastewater left during production is recycled and used for plants or even for local farmlands for irrigation purposes such as food crops, cattle grazing and farm pastures. The wastewater created during production is treated and circulated into the Manildra Wastewater Treatment Plant, which is located on site.

Supagas expresses how they have come to realise how they could operate in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way for the future. In achieving the same outcome of producing high quality CO₂, whilst still operating in an environmentally and sustainable mind frame.

The business outlook such as reducing utility costs such as water and electricity is a benefit to produce CO₂ which Supagas needs to facilitate and manufacture other products such as Dry Ice and SupaMap gases. Overall, the Plant has been highly beneficial since the start of the project. The Plant is providing Supagas with a clean, reliable, and sustainable supply of CO₂ to service current and future markets, with a growing demand for CO₂. Supagas highlights that they will continue to expand and explore other sources to ensure sufficient plant (i.e., wheat) supply to keep generating CO₂. 

To find out more about Specialty and Industrial Bulk Products and Gases, contact the Supagas Gas Professionals or visit www.supagas.com.au.


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