The Great Bubble Barrier
The Great Bubble Barrier stops plastic pollution in rivers close to the source before it reaches the oceans. By creating a curtain of air bubbles, plastic is prevented from flowing downstream without hindering fish or shipping. Every minute, the equivalent of one full garbage truck of plastic trash is dumped in the sea. In total that is eight billion kilos per year. Eighty percent of those plastics come directly from use on land. The Bubble Barrier creates a wall of bubbles stopping plastics from passing, but allowing fish and ships through unimpeded. This solution can be used any time and anywhere and thanks to a network of global partners, will soon be removing the plastics from the waterways all over the world.
The concept has been extensively tested in collaboration with the Dutch government public works agency Rijkswaterstaat, Deltares and BAM / Van den Herik. After testing the concept in the flumes at Deltares in May 2017, a 180-metrelong Bubble Barrier was placed in the IJssel river at the Dutch city of Kampen in a three-week trial in November. During this test period the European research team proved that the Bubble Barrier works under all conditions. At present the Great Bubble Barrier is focusing on realising a permanent barrier in the Netherlands. In the future, the ambition is to implement this solution in Europe and Asia.
The Bubble Barrier creates a bubble screen by pumping air through a tube with holes located on the riverbed. Current solutions catch floating debris, but a huge proportion of debris travels underwater. The Great Bubble Barrier creates a bubble curtain from the riverbed to the surface. This upward flow of the bubble barrier brings waste to the surface of the water. The barrier uses the natural current to guide the plastic towards the riverbanks, making it accessible for removal.
This innovative concept is based on existing technology. It increases oxygen in the water and does not need changes in infrastructure or policies. It is also easily scalable.
The Netherlands– fertile ground for innovation
The Dutch have the character and attitude of reinvention. Its people have embraced new ideas and innovation, with an ethos of ‘boldly going where none has gone before’ and ‘making things happen. We see it as crucial for economic growth, but moreover that it improves the well-being of society as a whole. Still, we strive to instil integrated approaches and holistic vision in our industries, knowledge institutes and citizens toward finding innovative solutions within high-tech, logistics to further secure the Netherlands leading international position in innovation and sustainability.