Meeting an urgent demand


The pandemic has driven the demand for dry ice sky-high. As it is odorless, non-poisonous, non-flammable, and very cold (-109° F / -78°C), this form of carbon dioxide (CO2) is well-suited for use in two markets impacted by the Covid crisis ­— food delivery and pharmaceuticals. As the pandemic passes the one year mark, gasworld talked with four key distributors across the US to get a sense of how dry ice suppliers are meeting the challenge of sudden demand.

Preparing for a spike

For Pacific Dry Ice, a subsidiary of Reliant, the leading privately held manufacturer of dry ice in the US and a nationwide supplier, the announcement that two vaccines, once approved, would require dry ice for transport and storage meant they needed to be prepared for more business. Dry ice is made from liquid carbon dioxide CO2 and ensuring its supply is critical to production. Buddy Collen, General Manager at Pacific Dry Ice in California, reports that the national liquid CO2 supply scenario has got much better since last fall: “It is still tight but seems to be staying ahead of demand. Fortunately, liquid CO2 plants generally operate at higher capacities in the winter so this helped. While there was a scramble to produce the maximum output of dry ice possible in the fourth quarter of 2020, the dry ice demand for Covid and the expectations from various state and hospital entities has actually been less than we initially anticipated.”

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