CO2 is commonly used to inflate life rafts and inflatable life jackets because it is an inert, non-flammable, inexpensive gas which is easily obtained and cheap to manufacture worldwide. The 2 man coastal life raft and dan buoy both use CO2 inflation cylinders.
Click to learn more about carbon dioxide.
Inert means the gas is non–reactive. By contrast, air, which contains O2, can cause metal parts to oxidize over time. Nitrogen, another inert gas, can alternatively be used to inflate life jackets or life rafts.
Cost Comparison of CO2 vs. N
James Wuerth, president of Kinder Morgan CO2 division, says it costs about $2.50 to $3.00 to capture, clean, and compress carbon dioxide, per thousand cubic feet. By contrast, Nitrogen gas prices range from $20 to $27.50 per 1000 cubic feet, depending on purity.