The Great Bubble Barrier
Great Bubble Barrier. A smart solution to plastic pollution
The Great Bubble Barrier believes that plastic waste can be caught before it reaches the oceans. Current solutions that stop waste in the rivers have two major drawbacks; they block ship traffic and/or hinder fish migration. They created an elegant solution that blocks waste in the river but also allows the passage of fish and ships: a barrier of bubbles.
The Bubble Barrier is created by pumping air through a tube with holes which is placed at the bottom of a river. The rising bubbles create a bubble screen, blocking waste from flowing any further and lifting it up to the surface.
By placing a Bubble Barrier diagonally in the waterway, plastics are blocked from moving downstream and the water current is cleverly used to direct the waste to the banks. The waste accumulates on the riverside in a catchment system, from which it can easily be collected. Ships can pass over the bubbles, while fish can
pass through the bubbles.
The Great Bubble Barrier was founded in early 2017. In that same year, a Bubble Barrier prototype was tested at the water laboratory of Deltares and a 10m Bubble Barrier was prototyped in Berlin. Based on the results of these pilots, in November 2017 a full-scale 200m Bubble Barrier pilot project was launched in the river IJssel, supported by Rijkswaterstaat, Deltares and BAM/vdHerik. The pilot project showed the Bubble Barrier blocked 86% of all test material, under all weather conditions present during a Dutch November month.
Following these pilots, TGBB engaged in a research project involving the installation of a Bubble Barrier in Wervershoof, to study the effectiveness of a Bubble Barrier for microplastics the size of at least 2 nanometre. In 2019, the first permanent Bubble Barrier was installed in Amsterdam.
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