Japanese industrial gas company Nippon Gases will build a £9.5m ($12.1m) carbon dioxide (CO2) import and distribution terminal at Warrenpoint Port, Northern Ireland.

The 2,500 tonnes capacity facility will store liquid CO2 for the food and drinks industry across Ireland and aims to “significantly improve” security of supply for the gas on both sides of the border.

The establishment of the terminal is in response to the major CO2 shortage experienced in Ireland and the UK during the summer of 2018.

Work is due to commence this summer and the facility is expected to be operational in Q2 2020.

The project represents the first major investment in Ireland by the firm since it purchased Praxair Gases Europe in December 2018.

Gerard Dore, Nippon Gases’ Commercial Manager, emphasized that CO2 is a key ingredient in the production of food and beverages.

“People know that it adds the fizz to drinks. Many are not aware however that it is also used in the processing of meat and food products,” he said.

“Food applications include modified atmosphere packaging (MAP), chilling and freezing of foods.”

“It is also used in the production of dry ice which is used in airline catering, online food sales, plus transport of pharmaceutical and clinical products.”

Dore explained that with no significant native source of liquid carbon dioxide on the island of Ireland, supply is currently imported by industrial gas companies daily into Ireland via road tankers coming across the Irish Sea.

“Nippon Gases already own a number of CO2 terminals and ships in North West Europe. With this investment in Ireland, Nippon are changing the supply chain radically for their Irish customers by importing via ship rather than road tanker,” he said.

“It is worth noting that one ship will be the equivalent of 90 road tankers coming across the Irish Sea.”

Dore also highlighted the reduction in carbon footprint, which he said is “very large”.

gasworld will be looking back at the CO2 crisis of 2018 one year on in the coming weeks and in the upcoming global mag.