Cover Image


View/Hide Left Panel

TABLE 3-1 Physical and Chemical Properties of Carbon Dioxidea

Synonyms and trade names

Carbonic acid gas, carbonic anhydride, dry ice

CAS registry number


Molecular formula


Molecular weight


Boiling point

Melting point

Sublimes at −78.48°C

Flash point

Explosive limits

Specific gravity

1.527 with respect to air

Vapor pressure

569.1 mmHg at −82°C


Solubility in H2O at 20°C, 760 mmHg = 88 mL CO2/100 mL H2O; less soluble in alcohol and other neutral organic solvents

Conversion factors

1 ppm = 1.80 mg/m3; 1 mg/m3 = 0.56 ppm

aData were taken from Budavari et al. (1989).

Abbreviations: mg/m3, milligrams per cubic meter; mL, milliliters; mmHg, millimeters of mercury; ppm, parts per million; —, not available or not applicable.

Submarine crew are reported to be the major source of CO2 on board submarines (Crawl 2003). Data collected on nine nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines indicate an average CO2 concentration of 3,500 ppm with a range of 0-10,600 ppm, and data collected on 10 nuclear-powered attack submarines indicate an average CO2 concentration of 4,100 ppm with a range of 300-11,300 ppm (Hagar 2003).


The information below was taken largely from a more comprehensive review, Spacecraft Maximum Allowable Concentrations for Selected Airborne Contaminants, Volume 2 (NRC 1996). The studies discussed represent those most relevant to submariners and the submarine environment.

CO2 is a simple asphyxiant and lethal asphyxiations have been reported at concentrations as low as 110,000 ppm (Hamilton and Hardy 1974). Loss of consciousness can occur within a minute of exposure at 300,000 ppm and within 5-10 minutes (min) of exposure at 100,000 ppm (HSDB 2004). The effects of concentrations of CO2 between 7,000 and 300,000 ppm in humans and animals are discussed below and include

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement