New Technology Uses Light to Capture Carbon Dioxide Emissions

New Technology Uses Light to Capture Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions is crucial to combat climate change, but existing methods are costly and energy-intensive. However, a groundbreaking new technology may provide a solution. Researchers have discovered a way to harness light and special light-triggered molecules to extract CO2 from gas mixtures.

The innovative method, detailed in a study published in the journal Chemistry of Materials, has the potential to significantly reduce the energy requirements for capturing CO2. By utilizing sunlight, the process becomes more sustainable and efficient.

Traditionally, carbon capture projects have relied on liquid or solid materials to absorb CO2 emissions at power plants and industrial facilities. However, these materials are often expensive and require heating to release the captured CO2. This new technique offers a simpler alternative.

Led by Maria Lukatskaya, a professor at ETH Zurich, the research team developed a carbon-removal technique based on the different forms that CO2 takes in acidic and alkaline solutions. In alkaline solutions, the CO2 reacts to form carbonic acid salts. This chemical reaction is reversible and can be triggered by altering the acidity of the liquid.

To achieve this, the researchers introduced photoacids, light-activated molecules that make the liquid acidic upon exposure to light. By passing a gas mixture through the photoacid-containing liquid and then irradiating it with light, the CO2 is converted into carbonates. The carbonates can then be easily collected as CO2 gas, ready for storage or further use.

The advantages of this technology are twofold. Firstly, it can be powered by sunlight, reducing the energy consumption associated with traditional carbon capture methods. Secondly, the process is fast, taking only seconds to minutes for each cycle compared to heat-driven approaches.

Although there is still work to be done to enhance the stability of the photoacids, this breakthrough paves the way for a more sustainable and cost-effective solution for capturing carbon dioxide emissions. As the world continues its efforts to combat climate change, innovative technologies like this offer hope for achieving global climate goals.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: What is the main focus of the article?
A: The article discusses a new technology that uses light and light-triggered molecules to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in a more cost-effective and energy-efficient manner.

Q: How does the new technology work?
A: The researchers developed a carbon-removal technique based on the different forms of CO2 in acidic and alkaline solutions. By introducing photoacids, light-activated molecules, into an alkaline liquid, the CO2 can be converted into carbonates upon exposure to light. These carbonates can then be easily collected.

Q: What are the advantages of this technology?
A: The new technology can be powered by sunlight, reducing energy consumption compared to traditional carbon capture methods. Additionally, the process takes only seconds to minutes per cycle, making it faster than heat-driven approaches.

Q: What were the limitations of previous carbon capture methods?
A: Previous methods relied on expensive liquid or solid materials that required heating to release the captured CO2. These methods were costly and energy-intensive.


1. Carbon Capture: The process of capturing and storing carbon dioxide emissions generated from industrial processes to prevent them from being released into the atmosphere.

2. Carbonic Acid Salts: Compounds formed when carbon dioxide (CO2) reacts with alkaline solutions to create salts, such as sodium carbonate.

3. Photoacids: Light-activated molecules used to alter the acidity of a liquid upon exposure to light.

Suggested Related Links

1. ETH Zurich: Official website of ETH Zurich, the institution where the research team led by Maria Lukatskaya conducted their study.

2. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – Climate Change: The official website of the EPA’s Climate Change section, which provides information and resources on climate change and its impact.