Carbon Capturing Motors

Innovation created by: Nano-engineers researchers from the University of California

Presentation written by: Ruben Rochwerger,

Presentation supervised by: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Elena M. BARBU,


1. General information

 One of the main problems linked to global warming and CO2 emissions is the acidification of the oceans. Indeed, the oceans absorb around 25% of our CO2 emissions, reducing the amount of CO3- ions, thus the potential of hydrogen of the waters and their basicity (-30% between the beginning of the industrial era and nowadays).

This is, on one side, a good thing as it reduces the speed of the global warming. However on the other side, it is a great threat for the marine fauna provided with shells as the water acidity and the lack of CO3- ions tend to prevent their growth.

Figure 1: Ocean acidification main chemical  phenomenon

As the anthropic CO2 emissions are not even near to decrease, something has to be done quickly to avoid too much damages to the oceans environment. A way to bring the pH back to normal should be found.


2. Presentation of the innovation

A group of nano-engineers from the University of California, San Diego, have recently imagined and developed a new form of nano-motor that could help reducing the level of carbon dioxide dissolved in the oceans, and therefore their associated acidity.

Those elements would use their near environment to move forward, converting CO2 into a precipitate of calcium carbonate, which could then be collected and used.

Compared with other solutions already imagined, this one would consume less energy, no harsh chemicals, and would be less expensive.

The figure below presents a schematic view of such a nano motor, converting red and black CO2 molecules into white precipitate of calcium carbonate.


Figure 2: Schematic view of a nano motor


3. Impacts of the innovation

The social responsibility of such an innovation if applied on a large scale is obvious.

The company that would develop it could make a lot of profit relying on the actual will to act for the environment, or by simply selling the collected calcium carbonate, if they manage to get good yields.

This would be a durable, strategic and eco-friendly innovation at all points of view.


4. Limits

The actual solution uses platinum and hydrogen peroxide. Platinum is an extremely rare and expensive material, which is the major drawback of this innovation, plus its extraction does a lot of damages to the environment. Improvements have to be done to make that solution viable.