Pools, industries shipping perishables, and laboratories also impacted.
The life-essential gas, carbon dioxide, has been blamed for every hot day, blizzard, and hurricane for over 20 years.
Now Americans will have to deal with a new carbon dioxide problem. There is a shortage of it, which is critical for beer production.
A nationwide shortage of carbon dioxide that became dire after a Mississippi supplier of the vital gas shut down in July is threatening beer-makers around the country.
Without carbon dioxide, many types of beers fall flat.
The gas contributes to beer foam, shelf stability and it’s used throughout the production and packaging process, according to experts.
Big breweries, like Budweiser, have technology to siphon off the gas during the fermentation process, but smaller craft brewers don’t produce enough product to get their gas from fermentation, according to a trade group representing thousands of small breweries.
“Some of our members had to stop production because a gas shipment was delayed or they ran out of CO2,” said Chuck Skypeck, technical brewing projects director for the Brewers Association. “We are hearing reports from members of decreased production. We might start to see shortages in a few weeks, especially if the situation continues.”
The less of something there is, the more it tends to cost. So, the price of the gas is also increasing.
It’s one more price increase among many for breweries, which are dealing with across-the-board inflation on everything needed to produce and package beer: barley, hops, bottles, labels … you name it. Alewerks has been trying to absorb many of the costs, though the brewery expects to raise its prices this year.
“Just for right now, we try to weather it,” Claar said.
Breweries rely on CO2 not just for those bubbles that beer-drinkers expect but also for moving beer between tanks or to kegs and canning lines, and to purge oxygen from tanks. “Warm and flat is not where it’s at,” noted Bob Pease, the president and CEO of the Brewers Association, which represents small and independent craft breweries. “It’s a key ingredient.”
In San Diego, the shortage has shut down local pools.
Four municipal pools in the city of San Diego will be temporarily closed beginning Monday as a result of a nationwide shortage of carbon dioxide, the county said Saturday.
The shortage is due in large part to supply chain issues exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, San Diego County spokesman Jose Ysea said.
CO2 is used to help balance and maintain the pH levels in the pool water, Ysea said.
Dry ice is solid carbon dioxide. It is used widely for the shipping of perishable items and in laboratories.
The gas in its solid form, otherwise known as dry ice, is used in places like research and pharmaceutical labs, as well as food transportation.
The poultry industry — already facing a national shortage caused by winter storms in the Gulf and an avian influenza outbreak in spring — could see some impacts to how it ships and packages products without enough dry ice.
…Chair of the university’s chemistry and biochemistry department Jeremy Morgan said dry ice is a necessity most days.
It has a temperature of -78 degrees Celsius, which generates a “cold bath” when mixed with certain organic solvents. A regular ice bath, which does not reach below 0 degrees Celsisus, can sometimes be used instead, Morgan explained.
“We use these baths to control the temperature of reactions conducted in the laboratory,” he said. “Not all projects require a -78 bath, but we also perform solvent transfer every day where a cold bath is required.”
Morgan added alternatives like liquid nitrogen would be harder to control and -78 Celsius chillers would be too expensive to purchase.
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