We have found and developed an elegant solution to stop the plastic pollution from entering our oceans: Bubbles.
Plastic waste is being dumped in our waterways, where it brings great harm to the environment – including human beings. Aquatic animals get tangled in plastic, microplastics pose a health risk from the smallest to the largest organisms and ships suffer damages. This increasing problem is recognized by different institutions worldwide, such as the United Nations, EllenMcArthur Foundation and the World Health Organization. We have designed a solution that intercepts plastics in rivers and canals before it reaches the ocean.
We create a bubble screen by pumping air through a tube with holes in it, which is located on the bottom of the waterway. The Bubble Barrier creates an upwards thrust, which brings waste to the surface of the water. By placing it diagonally in the waterway, the Bubble Barrier uses the natural current to guide the plastic to the catchment system at the riverside. Both ships as fish can pass the Bubble Barrier, but plastic will be stopped.
Besides the capture of debris, the Bubble Barrier has other positive side effects. Oxygen levels within the water increase by a Bubble Barrier, which stimulates the ecosystem and stops the growth of toxic blue algae.As bubble screens absorb sounds and waves, fish and shores experience less harm from the ship traffic.
The benefits of the Bubble Barrier
With these features, our system meets the most important conditions: it is fish-friendly, does not form an obstacle for shipping and the overall natural functioning of the delta..The Bubble Barrier can be placed in various rivers and canals. Our goal is to place Bubble Barriers in urban and industrial areas, which are known to have a high rate of plastic litter.
The Great Bubble Barrier:
A smart solution to plastic pollution.The Bubble Barrier can reduce the amount of plastic pollution in rivers and can help raising awareness in order to prevent further plastic pollution. We believe plastic debris should be eliminated from our environment. That is why we have four goals:
1. Clean up plastic pollution in rivers and canals with our Bubble Barriers to prevent it from flowing towards the ocean.
2. Investigate and monitor plastic pollution in rivers to collect data about plastic debris and the source.
3. Increase public awareness about plastic pollution in order to prevent plastic waste and litter.
4. Build towards a circular plastic chain to create a shift from a linear to a circular economy in which plastics never become waste.
The Great Bubble Barrier offers solutions for different problems. The Great Bubble Barrier catches more plastic than current solutions in flowing water because we can reach plastic ( > 1mm ) in the total width and depth of a river. A Bubble Barrier can be placed both in big rivers as in small canals.
Cities and towns
Now, municipalities and water management boards can tackle the plastic problem in their waters. They have a sustainable solution for their responsibilities to maintain the water quality. They can save costs of cleaning up manually – either on a regular basis or after flooding. Waterways will be kept clean without disturbing people, ships or animals.
Drinking water sources
Drinking water companies ensure that their drinking water sources remain free of plastic particles. The removal of smaller plastics in the drinking water chain is not yet feasible, so it is crucial to prevent plastic in the sources.
Nature parks can also place a barrier to prevent plastic pollution in nature reserves. In addition, the Bubble Barrier has other positive side effects due to air input. Oxygen levels within the water increases by a Bubble Barrier, which stimulates the ecosystem and stops the growth of the toxic blue algae. Fish and shores will experience less harm from the shipping that sails through our waters because the bubble screens absorb part of the sound and waves.
Tested thoroughly in collaboration with Rijkswaterstaat, Deltares and BAM/vandenHerik
In collaboration with the Dutch national institute of Infrastructure and Water Management Rijkswaterstaat, research institute Deltares and contractors BAM / van den Herik, our concept has been extensively tested. The first insights came while testing the concept in the flumes at Deltares in May 2017. At the end of 2017, we realized a Bubble Barrier of 200 meters at Kampen in the IJssel. For three weeks, the research team showed that the Bubble Barrier works under all Dutch autumn weather conditions and that it catches 86% of all used test material on average.
Photo & Illustration Credits by: ©thegreatbubblebarrier