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How a “liquid” carbon dioxide course of can stop your wine from spoiling

Whether it is a dry Chablis or a strong, full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon, a glass or two of quality wine can be one of the little joys in life.

However, a phenomenon known as "cork taste" can cause a variety of problems, including rancid odors and an offensive taste.

It's a problem that Fredérique Vaquer, a winemaker in the south of France, has firsthand experience with.

"I had a lot of customers once, it was a very important tasting, and I opened a magnum," she told CNBC's Sustainable Energy.

"I only had a magnum … it's usually a beautiful wine and this time it was & # 39; corky & # 39 ;."

The chemical compound 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA), which can get into the cork, plays an important role in cork-contaminated wine.

In France, however, a company called Diam Bouchage has developed a process to address the problem through the use of carbon dioxide (CO2).

Dominique Tourneix, the company's CEO, stated that his system had addressed the problem through the use of pressurized, "supercritical" CO2.

According to a video demonstration on its website, Diam Bouchage takes this supercritical CO2 – a liquid state of carbon dioxide – and injects it into an autoclave with pre-sifted cork granules.

The idea is that the CO2 will pass through the cork and remove any substances, including TCA, that could contaminate the wine.

The CO2 itself is then "removed, filtered and … recycled in a closed loop" while the cleaned and cleaned cork grain is processed into stoppers at a production site. Diam Bouchage has also developed a range of products that contain beeswax and a bio-based binder.

In his interview with CNBC, CEO Dominique Tourneix explained how by-products of the company's process can also be recycled and reused.

"Various companies actually buy our cork extract for use in their cosmetic applications," he said.

The power of green chemistry

The use of nature-based solutions such as beeswax by Diam Bouchage in the industrial and manufacturing context is also interesting.

Part of the company's work involves what is known as "green chemistry". A relatively broad term defined by the United States Environmental Protection Agency is "the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances".

Paul Anastas is director of the Center for Green Chemistry and Technology at Yale University. Together with John Warner – a chemist who is now President and Chief Technology Officer of the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry – Anastas co-authored the book "Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice", a key piece of work in this area.

Speaking to CNBC's Sustainable Energy, he was asked about the relationship between business and science in relation to green chemistry.

“People think I'm kidding when they ask, 'How did you come up with that name, green chemistry, all those years ago?'” He explained.

"And I say it is true that green is the color of the environment, but here in the US it is also the color of our money," he added.

"So it was about how you can achieve both goals at the same time and balance environmental and health goals with your economic and profitability goals."

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