Abstract Experimental work is performed with a 5A zeolite on a small laboratory column with heating from the wall. Carbon dioxide adsorption occurs at atmospheric pressure and different CO 2 concentrations in nitrogen. Comparisons of different methods of desorption by heating, purge and/or vacuum are studied. Desorption by heating only leads to almost pure CO 2 (around 99% purity) and a recovery nearly linear to the heating temperature, ranging from 45% at 130 °C to 79% at 210 °C. Recovery can be subsequently increased with a nitrogen purge to more than 98% but the recovered carbon dioxide is diluted due to the dispersive character of the desorption wave and the operation time is long. Increasing the flow rate decreases the desorption time but has no effect on the purity because the total purge volume remains about the same. Substitution of the purge step with a vacuum step leads to pure CO 2 and almost total recovery. Desorption under vacuum only without heating leads to pure CO 2 (around 99% purity) but limited recovery (85% in the present work). Desorption under vacuum seems to be more simple for large-scale applications. When using a water liquid ring pump, the temperature of the ring must be kept as low as possible to provide a high operating capacity.