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Ultraviolet light can break up CO2 into oxygen & carbon molecules. Have orbiting prisms amplify ultraviolet light.



In 2014, scientists at the University of California discovered that they could break up carbon dioxide into oxygen and carbon by zapping it with a high-energy vacuum ultraviolet laser. We need to figure out how to do this in our atmosphere and have the carbon fall to earth as a solid--ideally as tiny diamonds, which would make this enterprise beautiful as well as functional.

Category of the action


What actions do you propose?

Putting standard ultraviolet lasers into orbit with some sort of battery pack is probably not viable because the production of the battery pack would emit more carbon into the atmosphere than would be cleaned up by the lasers. Instead, the energy of the sun must be harnessed. Some sort of prism could be designed to concentrate the ultraviolet energy of the sun, and beam it down into the atmosphere. The prisms would be embedded in satellites that would keep them properly oriented. Every time the sun passed directly overhead, a beam of ultraviolet light would be created that would break apart some carbon dioxide.

The freed carbon molecules would, I hope, clump together into some solid form, such as diamonds or graphite, and fall to earth. If CVD diamonds can be created in a lab, then why can't such a process happen in our atmosphere?

Who will take these actions?

Where will these actions be taken?

What are other key benefits?

What are the proposal’s costs?

Time line

Related proposals


Zhou Lu, Yih Chung Chang, Qing-Zhu Yin, C. Y. Ng, William M. Jackson. "Evidence for direct molecular oxygen production in CO2 photodissociation." Science  03 Oct 2014: Vol. 346, Issue 6205, pp. 61-64.