In this paper we demonstrate that non-commutative localizations of arbitrary additive categories (generalizing those defined by Cohn in the setting of rings) are closely (and naturally) related to weight structures. Localizing an arbitrary triangulated category $\text{}\underline{C}$ by a set $S$ of morphisms in the heart $\text{}\underline{Hw}$ of a weight structure $w$ on it one obtains a triangulated category endowed with a weight structure $w^{\prime }$ . The heart of $w^{\prime }$ is a certain version of the Karoubi envelope of the non-commutative localization $\text{}\underline{Hw}[S^{-1}]_{\mathit{add}}$ (of $\text{}\underline{Hw}$ by $S$ ). The functor $\text{}\underline{Hw}\rightarrow \text{}\underline{Hw}[S^{-1}]_{\mathit{add}}$ is the natural categorical version of Cohn’s localization of a ring, i.e., it is universal among additive functors that make all elements of $S$ invertible. For any additive category $\text{}\underline{A}$ , taking $\text{}\underline{C}=K^{b}(\text{}\underline{A})$ we obtain a very efficient tool for computing $\text{}\underline{A}[S^{-1}]_{\mathit{add}}$ ; using it, we generalize the calculations of Gerasimov and Malcolmson (made for rings only). We also prove that $\text{}\underline{A}[S^{-1}]_{\mathit{add}}$ coincides with the ‘abstract’ localization $\text{}\underline{A}[S^{-1}]$ (as constructed by Gabriel and Zisman) if $S$ contains all identity morphisms of $\text{}\underline{A}$ and is closed with respect to direct sums. We apply our results to certain categories of birational motives $DM_{gm}^{o}(U)$ (generalizing those defined by Kahn and Sujatha). We define $DM_{gm}^{o}(U)$ for an arbitrary $U$ as a certain localization of $K^{b}(Cor(U))$ and obtain a weight structure for it. When $U$ is the spectrum of a perfect field, the weight structure obtained this way is compatible with the corresponding Chow and Gersten weight structures defined by the first author in previous papers. For a general $U$ the result is completely new. The existence of the corresponding adjacent $t$ -structure is also a new result over a general base scheme; its heart is a certain category of birational sheaves with transfers over $U$ .
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