Carbon dioxide is a very important gas that was identified by a Scottish physician and chemist and physician, Joseph Black in the 1750s. It is one of the gasses that is found in abundance in the atmosphere. Under room temperature, this gas is found to be odorless, and colorless. It is non-flammable and acidic in nature.
Carbon dioxide is basically a molecule that is available in solid, liquid and gaseous state. The molecular formula of carbon dioxide gas is “CO2”. Though this molecule is present in small amount of around 0.03%, it performs several important objectives that impacts living beings as well as the environment. In this article, we will learn about the significance of carbon dioxide in detail.
In what ways does carbon dioxide enter into Earth’s atmosphere?
There are several sources by which carbon dioxide gets into the atmosphere. Some of the key suppliers of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere are:
Volcanic outbreaks: Volcanoes are seen to generate carbon dioxide that fills the atmosphere.
Decay of organisms: Living organisms have some amount of carbon dioxide in it. When they die and decay, this carbon dioxide gets released into the atmosphere.
Exhale by living beings: Another way by which carbon dioxide enters into the atmosphere is via respiration. All living organisms inhale oxygen and release gas during respiration.
Agriculture of land: The cultivation of land is one more possible method to emit large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This happens due to the production by bacteria. So, both the ocean and the atmosphere constantly exchange carbon dioxide with the plants, higher organisms and rocks.
Combustion of fossil fuels: Fossil fuels such as petroleum and coal generate carbon dioxide when it is burnt.
How the amount of carbon dioxide is maintained in the atmosphere?
The amount of carbon dioxide is maintained at a constant rate by various processes on the Earth. Through above processes, carbon dioxide gets released into the atmosphere where through processes such as photosynthesis, formation of carbonate rocks, carbonated drinks, operation of fire extinguishers etc. carbon dioxide gas absorbed into the atmosphere.
Applications of carbon dioxide:
Having seen the various means by which carbon dioxide enters into the atmosphere, let us see how it benefits the environment.
- Carbon dioxide is very much needed for the growth, reproduction and survival of living things.
- Human beings also use carbon dioxide in several different methods. Some of these methods are beer, carbonated soft drinks etc. Carbon dioxide that gets released by yeast or baking powder gives a rise to the cake batter.
- The operation of a fire extinguisher uses carbon dioxide as it has more weight than air. Carbon dioxide has a property to prevent oxygen from catching the fire.
- Carbon dioxide is used in supercritical fluid extraction technology that helps in decaffeinating coffee. Dry ice, is referred to as the solid form of carbon dioxide. It is used for entertainment purposes such as creation of fog and “magic bubbles” on the stage in theaters.
- Different candies can also be prepared from carbon dioxide.
- In compressed gaseous form, carbon dioxide is also used for “pneumatic systems”.
- It is helpful for performing welding. Carbon dioxide acts as a remarkable solvent for preparation of lipophilic organic compounds.
- A part of carbon dioxide is also beneficial in executing environmental procedures. Carbon dioxide plays a significant role in animal and plant processes, such as respiration and photosynthesis. Green plants transform water and carbon dioxide into food compounds, like oxygen and glucose. This is called “photosynthesis”.
- Plants and animals convert the foods by merging it with oxygen. It helps in releasing energy for development and other activities. This is called as “respiration” or “the opposite of photosynthesis” process.
- Carbon dioxide is necessary for respiration in humans. In this process, oxygen gets transferred to the different tissues in the body while releasing carbon dioxide from them.
- Carbon dioxide is vital to keep the “pH” of the blood under permissible limits. This is essential for the survival of the person.
- Carbon dioxide has the ability to absorb infrared radiations that is helpful in heating the atmosphere. This is called as “Greenhouse Effect”. By blocking or soaking infrared radiation, it helps in keeping the earth warm and sustainable for living beings.
- Another benefit of carbon dioxide is for the formation of carbonated rocks. The ocean has an ability to absorb the gas from the atmosphere to make carbonate rocks.
Also read: Importance of Oxygen
In this way, carbon dioxide is valuable for the environment. The vital functions that it performs keep the entire environment of Earth warm via the Greenhouse effect.