Carbon dioxide: Roles in environment, health, beverages, fire extinguisher and food industry

in #stemng3 years ago (edited)
Carbon dioxide was first identified in 1750s by a Scottish chemist and physician named Joseph Black. Carbon dioxide is a colourless and odourless gas at room temperature of 20-250C, it is non-flammable and slightly acidic gas. Chemical compound that consist of one carbon atom and two oxygen atom is chemically represented by the formula CO2 and is known as carbon dioxide. Carbon exist basically in gaseous form, it also exist in liquid and solid state. When the temperature is below -780C carbon exist as solid. It exists as liquid when it dissolves in water. At constant temperature, carbon dioxide is water-soluble. The CO2 will escape to air when the temperature drops.Carbon dioxide for a number of reasons is known to be one of the most important gases on earth.

Carbohydrates are being produced by plant through the use of carbon dioxide by a process known as photosynthesis (during photosynthesis, energy is produced when light break down chemical compounds in plant). Since photosynthesis is necessary for the survival of all life on earth therefore, humans and other animals depend on plant for their food

Another importance of carbon dioxide is that it captures radiated heat from earth’s surface thereby keeping the earth warm enough for plant and animal (including human) life to survive. Long-term changes in Earth’s climate may be as a result of increasing level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The climate changes may be beneficial and harmful to human and other forms of life on the planet.

Carbon dioxide role on environmental processes
One of the most abundant gases in the atmosphere is carbon dioxide. It plays so many important roles in vital plant and animal process. The following are the important roles of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide production results into heating up of earth and atmosphere for our survival through a process known as green-house effect.
Carbon dioxide plays an important role in photosynthesis process which is used by green plant for the production of food for plants and animals.

Carbon dioxide form carbonate rocks when it dissolves in oceans.Carbon dioxide gas is been released by some of the processes that takes place in earth and its atmosphere whereas by other processes carbon dioxide is been consumed. Therefore, by a number of different processes, the portion of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is maintained. The following are the major carbon dioxide supplier to the atmosphere; Volcanoes eruption, Respiration of living organism, fossil fuels burning, dead organism decay and land cultivation.

Carbon dioxide released to the atmosphere by volcanoes is from the interior of the earth. Carbon dioxide major consumers from the atmosphere are; Oceans and green plant. Green plants produced their food by use of carbon dioxide through photosynthesis process while carbonate rocks are formed when carbon dioxide is dissolved in oceans. As a result of this, higher organisms, plants and rocks exchange carbon dioxide continuously with oceans and atmosphere.

The lower part of the earth that is about 10-15km thick is referred to as troposphere. Inside this troposphere are greenhouse gases. Some of the sunlight is converted to heat when it reaches the earth. Some of the heat is being absorbed by the greenhouse gases thus, get trapped near the surface of the earth thereby resulting to warming of the earth. This is referred to as greenhouse effect.

Greenhouse effect process regulates/controls the temperature of the earth and life exist base on this process. Without the existence of greenhouse effect, ice would have covered the whole earth. The temperature of the earth is determined by the amount of trapped heat by the troposphere. Concentration of greenhouse gases and the time in which the gases remain in the atmosphere determines the amount of heat in the troposphere. The most significant greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide, chloro-fluoro-carbon (CFC’s), methane and nitrogen oxide.

Greenhouse gasses (such as carbon dioxide and CFC’s) emission since industrial revolution has been caused by human. This has results into environmental problem. The increase in temperatures is causing change in earth’s climate just because of extensive growth in the amount of greenhouse gases. Unnatural Increase of greenhouse effect is referred to as global warming.

Global warming is suspected may result in rise of storm activities, melting of ice caps on the poles, which will cause flooding to the inhabitant of the continent, and other problems environmentally. Carbon dioxide and hydrogen is the main greenhouse gas. Since during industrial processes, hydrogen cannot be emitted. Therefore, the amount of hydrogen in the atmosphere cannot be contributed to by humans, it changes naturally during hydrological cycle, so global warming is not caused by hydrogen. 50-60% of global warming is as a result of increase emission of carbon dioxide.

Carbon dioxide roles in food industry
In food industries, carbon dioxide is food additive which is used as acidity and propellant regulator. Carbon dioxide is used to pressurize pop rocks candy. Therefore, it releases gas bubbles and makes audible pop as it dissolves when placed in the mouth.Dough is caused to rise with the help of leavening agent by producing carbon dioxide. As a result of fermentation of sugar within the dough, carbon dioxide is produced by the addition of baker’s yeast.

Carbon dioxide roles in health sector
Human body makes use of carbon dioxide as important ingredient for internal respiration. A process through which carbon dioxide is carried away from body tissues and oxygen is transported to them is referred to as internal respiration.
Carbon dioxide is a constituent of buffer to the blood. It helps blood in maintaining its pH which is important for human survival.

Carbon dioxide plays an important role in a buffer system known as carbonate buffer. Carbonate buffer constituents are carbonic acid, dissolved carbon dioxide and bicarbonate ions. Introduction of hydrogen ions from the acid to the blood decreases the pH of the blood and which is neutralized by bicarbonate ion from the buffer while the hydroxide ions from the base which increase the pH of the blood is been neutralized by the carbonic acid from the buffer.

Rise and fall in blood pH is life threatening. As the concentration of carbon dioxide is beyond certain limit, it results to health effects despite that it is an important constituent of human buffer.The following are the primary health danger of carbon dioxide.

This occur as a result of carbon dioxide release in an unventilated environment. With this, oxygen concentration is lowered which could be immediately dangerous to human health.

Kidney damage or coma
This occur when the chemical equilibrium of carbonate buffer of carbon dioxide is been altered. Increase and decrease in the concentration of carbon dioxide will alter the chemical equilibrium of the carbonate buffer and will result in to a life threatening situation.

Carbon dioxide roles in beverages
Beverages or other soft drinks are prepared at high pressure by dissolving carbon dioxide in water. Carbonic acid H2CO3 is formed when carbon dioxide is dissolved in water. The CO2 remain dissolved as far as the drink is under pressure. The CO2 escapes as bubbles when the pressure is released. The addition of carbon dioxide to water changes the taste of the water. Ingested CO2 can be release either through burping or it enters the blood stream where other component of blood will be buffered. The CO2 is mainly used for pH regulation of blood and breathing.

Carbon Dioxide role as fire Extinguisher
Flames are extinguished by carbon dioxide by flooding the gas in the environment around the flame. Carbon dioxide itself doesn’t put off the flame, but it stops the oxygen from reaching the flame by displacing it. Fire extinguishers are filled with liquid carbon dioxide under pressure. Fire extinguisher filled with carbon dioxide perform very well on electrical fire and small flammable fire but doesn’t work well on combustible fire due to the fact that CO2 only stops the oxygen from reaching the fire but the burning substance is not cooled.

Conclusively, the importance of carbon dioxide in our day to day life activities cannot be undermined. Despite its beneficial significance to human life, too much of it could be life threatening. Therefore, any activity that will increase CO2 in the atmosphere should be avoided.

With the video below you will understand more on the importance of carbon dioxide in photosynthesis


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Note: All the images are from free sources



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