With this coming together of Pentair and Union Engineering, we’re reflecting on not just another consolidation in the global gases business, but a union that exemplifies the shift in the carbon dioxide (CO2) market in recent years – from a cryogenically cool subject to an increasingly hot topic.

gasworld understood a major announcement was in the offing from Pentair, but could not have envisaged such a big deal. And yet, during these seemingly heady days of merger and acquisition (M&A) activity within the global industrial gases business, perhaps one should not have been surprised.

The CO2 business itself has been the subject of considerable consolidation in recent years, though largely in the North American market, where we have seen the acquisition of EPCO Carbon Dioxide Products, Inc. by Air Products and MATHESON’s takeover of Continental Carbonic, the number two supplier of dry ice in the region, to name just two headline deals. Cold Jet also revealed its acquisition of fellow dry ice specialist IceTech just last year.

The purchase of Union Engineering becomes the latest strategic move in an increasingly profitable business for the gases and engineering industries.

So long the poor relation in the mainstream press for its negative environmental connotations, CO2 is becoming the lead protagonist in a number of fundamental applications that benefit us all. From drinks carbonation and food chilling and freezing, to water treatment, dry ice blasting, and manufacturing, CO2 is a product in demand. Or rather, a by-product in demand.

”So long the poor relation in the mainstream press for its negative environmental connotations, CO2 is becoming the lead protagonist in a number of fundamental applications that benefit us all”

Growing environmental and climate change pressures are prompting many companies to look for alternative ways of meeting demand for CO2 without generating new streams of this gas. Recycling is an increasingly popular solution – and a highly attractive one given that this gas widely occurs as a by-product of many industrial processes.

This is where the complementary nature of Pentair and Union Engineering will be significant. Pentair addresses CO2 capture and reuse, as well as biogas upgrading, with a range of innovative technologies, while Union is a well-established engineering company, specialised in sustainable technologies for the capture, recovery and purification of CO2. It looks to be a perfect fit.

And yet for some onlookers, it will once again raise questions over the organic growth prospects at large. At a time of prolific M&A activity across the industry from the top down, and on the same day that US-based business Tech Air announced its 21st acquisition under the ownership of CI Capital Partners (and its second in just over a week), growth through acquisition appears to be very much the order of the day.