Carbon Dioxide, colorless, odorless, and slightly acid-tasting gas, sometimes called carbonic acid gas, the molecule of which consists of one atom of carbon joined to two atoms of oxygen (CO2). It was called “fixed air” by the Scottish chemist Joseph Black, who obtained it through the decomposition of chalk and limestone and recognized that it entered into the chemical composition of these substances. The French chemist Antoine Lavoisier proved that it is an oxide of carbon by showing that the gas obtained by the combustion of charcoal is identical in its properties with the “fixed air” obtained by Black. Carbon dioxide is about 1.5 times as dense as air. It is soluble in water, 0.9 volume of the gas dissolving in 1 volume of water at 20° C (68° F).
Carbon dioxide is produced in a variety of ways: by combustion, or oxidation, of materials containing carbon, such as coal, wood, oil, or foods; by fermentation of sugars; and by decomposition of carbonates under the influence of heat or acids. Commercially, carbon dioxide is recovered from furnace or kiln gases; from fermentation processes; from reaction of carbonates with acids; and from reaction of steam with natural gas, a step in the commercial production of ammonia. The carbon dioxide is purified by dissolving it in a concentrated solution of alkali carbonate or ethanolamine and then heating the solution with steam. The gas is evolved and is compressed into steel cylinders.