The 2021 US Merchant CO2 Report


Last year was burdened with carbon dioxide (CO2) shortages brought on by the Covid pandemic and resulting impact on the US economy, causing ethanol CO2 sources to be temporarily idled or closed. In addition, regional variations affected the West and East coasts more. This situation was well managed by the suppliers early on who have learned to become nimbler over the last 12 months. This was evidenced by the recent winter storms in the US Southwest that were well managed and only impacted supply for three to four days. Diversity of sourcing to protect the infrastructure has caused some suppliers to consider branching out more into alternative fuel feedstock for CO2 production plants.

According to Brad Jones, Director of Business Development, CO2 Division, Poet Ethanol Products, “During the pandemic demand for CO2 was curtailed longer than the supply was interrupted. In the beginning, plants were running at shuttered rates. The process brought to light that the CO2 industry has the ability to meet the market challenges and in the process were able to highlight our ability to react rapidly to changing market conditions.”

One new CO2 plant came onstream in 2020 while three new or expanded CO2 source plants came onstream in 2019. Only one new CO2 plant is known to be coming onstream in 2022, however, there are a number of new projects being planned or considered over the next five years. This slow annual capacity growth, whether due to conditions at CO2 sourcing plants or lack of new feedstock sources, is not keeping pace with projected stronger market demand. Within the US merchant CO2 market, changes in CO2 sources and changes in demand regionally, will continue to reshape the business over the next five years as they have over the past decade. The CO2 business is comprised of industrial gas companies and specialized CO2 producers and distributors which supply merchant liquid and dry ice to a wide variety of CO2 markets including food, welding and cutting, and oil and gas. US merchant CO2 represents about $1.5 billion in sales per year.

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