The key difference between compressed air and CO2 is that the pressure of compressed air is much higher than the normal atmospheric pressure while we usually store carbon dioxide at low pressure.
The atmosphere consists of various gases and particles, which we need for various purposes. Oxygen is one of the most crucial things on the earth which determines the survival of living things. Other than that carbon dioxide is also important for the survival due to its importance in photosynthesis. Except for these natural phenomena, people developed methods to make use of air to fulfil their various needs.
What is Compressed Air?
Compressed air is the air that is under pressure, consisting of oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and all the other gases in the atmosphere. Further, this air is at a higher pressure than the normal atmospheric pressure. It has many usages, mainly in producing energy. However, it is more expensive than the other energy producing resources like electricity, water and natural gas.
More importantly, we can use compressed air as a method for energy storage. When we compress air, a lot of heat generates, and the air becomes warmer after the compression. Decompression of air requires heat. Therefore, we can store the heat generated during the compression and use it later during decompression.
Further, compressed air is useful for vehicles, railway braking systems, diesel engine cranking, cleaning electronic devices, air tools, etc. Compressed air tanks are expensive, and they need an advanced regulator to maintain a constant flow of the same-pressured air.
What is CO2?
Carbon dioxide is a molecule that forms from a carbon atom and two oxygen atoms. Each oxygen atom forms a double bond with carbon, and thus, the molecule has a linear geometry. The molecular weight of this compound is 44 g mole-1.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a colourless gas, and upon the dissolution in water, it forms carbonic acid. Moreover, this gas is denser than air. The concentration of carbon dioxide is 0.03% in the atmosphere. The carbon cycle balances the CO2 amount in the atmosphere. Further, this gas emits to the atmosphere through natural processes such as respiration, volcano eruption, and through human activities like fossil fuel burning in vehicles and factories.
In contrast, this gas removes from the atmosphere in photosynthesis, and they can deposit as carbonates in the long run. However, the human interference (fossil fuel burning, deforestation) causes an imbalance in the carbon cycle, increasing CO2 gas level. Global environmental problems like acid rain, greenhouse effect and global warming are results of that. Carbon dioxide is useful to make soft drinks, in the bakery industry, as fire extinguishers, etc.
Furthermore, carbon dioxide tanks are readily available, and we can easily buy them. Also, they cost less. As a result, their maintenance is easy and doesn’t need an advanced regulator. Carbon dioxide can be stored as a liquid in low pressure. However, they are unreliable at low temperatures.
What is the Difference Between Compressed Air and CO2?
Compressed air is the air that is under pressure, consisting of oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and all the other gases in the atmosphere and CO2 is a gaseous molecule that forms from a carbon atom and two oxygen atoms. The key difference between compressed air and CO2 is that the pressure of compressed air is much higher than the normal atmospheric pressure while we usually store carbon dioxide at low pressure.
Moreover, Compressed air is more expensive than carbon dioxide. As another important difference between compressed air and CO2, the Carbon dioxide tanks are easy to find and doesn’t need advanced regulators like compressed air tanks do.
The below infographic gives more information on the difference between compressed air and CO2.
Summary – Compressed Air vs CO2
Compressed air and CO2 are very important gaseous sources. The key difference between compressed air and CO2 is that the pressure of compressed air is much higher than the normal atmospheric pressure while we usually store carbon dioxide at low pressure.
1.Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Compressed Air.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 27 Sept. 2013. Available here
2.“Carbon Dioxide.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database, U.S. National Library of Medicine. Available here