As you probably know carbon dioxide, or CO2, is a naturally occurring molecule and is found all around us in the air. It is made of 1 carbon atom and 2 oxygen atoms, which are important elements that make up all living things. Carbon dioxide has a lot of things in many different ways here are just some of them...
- In living things such as plants, algae and some bacteria carbon dioxide is absorbed from the atmosphere. They use the carbon dioxide with water and sunlight to produce their food, in the form of sugars, giving them the energy they need to survive. This processes is called photosynthesis, it is useful to us as it produces oxygen that we need to live. Scientists are looking at ways to use these organisms (living things) to produce biofuels via photosynthesis.
- In living things that need oxygen, like humans carbon dioxide is the end product of respiration. Respiration is the name for how we make energy by breaking down sugars, fats, proteins we get from our diet. The carbon dioxide is then released into the atmosphere.
- in industry carbon dioxide is used as it is an inert, or stable, gas so it is safe for use in most environments. It is used in fire extinguishers, food and drink production, pressurisation e.g. pressure tools and bike tyres, chemical production e.g. drugs, refrigerators, etc.
Carbon dioxide does have some negative effects, such as dissolving into the oceans lowering the pH, known as ocean acidification, and it is a greenhouse gas which leads to global warming. Carbon dioxide as a waste product from industry, which is causing the concentration to increase in our atmosphere. Scientists are looking at ways to use the extra carbon dioxide we are producing, for example by using the organisms that need carbon dioxide for photosynthesis to make biofuels and chemicals.