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 mission of The Great Bubble Barrier is to remove as much plastic from rivers as possible. They want to achieve this through four pathways:
1. Clean up the plastic soup in rivers using our Bubble Barriers
2. Increase awareness with Bubble Barriers as sites for public tours and educational programs
3. Measure and monitor the amount of plastic in the rivers to help develop better policy and actions
4. Help build a circular plastic chain by recovering and recycling waste from rivers

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.

The Great Bubble Barrier has reached an audience of over 10 million people worldwide. Major media channels have reported about The Great Bubble Barrier, a.o. National Geographic, Forbes, The Guardian, China Daily, AJ+, TV France, Stern and El Pais. Our goal is to install Bubble Barriers at smart locations to stop as much plastic as possible on its way to the oceans. With our Bubble Barrier we are ready to help governments and businesses to stop plastic pollution in rivers and canals worldwide.

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