The Great Bubble Barrier

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Every minute, the equivalent of one full garbage truck of plastic trash is dumped in the sea. That is 1440 trucks per 24 hours and in total 8 billion kilos per year. With 80% of those plastics coming directly from the land.
The Great Bubble Barrier® creates a barrier stopping plastics from flowing past, but it also allows fish and ships to pass through the barrier unimpeded.



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Francis Zoet, Co-founder and COO at The Great Bubble Barrier, posted

Is your city ready to stop the plastic soup from growing?

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The city of Amsterdam and The Great Bubble Barrier will start fighting the plastic soup in their own canals! The Great Bubble Barrier has been selected for the Startup in Residence program, and will work towards a pilot in the city in the first half of 2018!

Everywhere around the world awareness is growing that the amount of plastic in our oceans is highly dangerous, for both our maritime ecosystems as well as our own health. Plastics have been found in almost every sea feeding bird species, as well as in the majority of the shellfish we eat.

The majority of the plastics in the oceans (80%) comes from land, via rivers and canals, and originates from cities. Here litter is blown into the water and transported straight to sea without any barrier to stop it. Barriers do usually not only block plastics, they block ship traffic and aquatic life as well.

With The Great Bubble Barrier we have found a way to block plastics and allow passage of ships and fish. We use a Bubble Barrier: a barrier made of air, which directs the waste to the side of the canal or river using the natural current.

After extensive testing in 2017 our Bubbles are ready for action and we need your help!
We want to stop plastic pollution as soon as we can. Together with the city of Amsterdam, and every other city that is willing to tackle the problem.

To get a head start and make sure we realize our first permanent Bubble Barrier in 2018 we have started a crowdfunding. Our plastic soup fighting partners have offered some great rewards that you will get in return for your donation. With your help we can stop waste from entering the oceans!

Please support our crowdfunding and tell us where you think the next Bubble Barrier should be placed.

Donate >

Francis Zoet's picture News
Sandy Reitsma, The Great Bubble Barrier at The Great Bubble Barrier, posted

The Great Bubble Barrier

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Too much of the waste that our society produces ends up in the water, where it damages marine and human life. This problem is recognized more and more, both by the general public, municipalities, government and the European Union.

We believe plastic waste can be caught before it reaches the oceans. The current solutions that stop waste in the rivers have two major drawbacks; they block ship traffic and/or hinder fish
movement. We searched for an elegant solution that blocks waste in the river, but also allows the passage of fish and ships. And we arrived at a very simple idea; a barrier of bubbles.

By placing two bubble barriers (or air screens) diagonally, we block plastics from moving downstream, and make clever use of the current of the river to direct the waste to the banks. We create a bubble barrier by pumping air through a tube with holes, placed on the bottom of the river. The upward current that the bubbles generate brings the waste to the surface, and the turbulence stops the waste from flowing downstream. The waste gathers on the side of the river, where it can easily be collected with for example a conveyor belt. The fish slalom allows fish to pass the barrier unobstructed. Our system also brings aeration to the water, increasing oxygen levels and improving the health of the ecosystem. With these aspects the Great Bubble Barrier meets all the important conditions: it barely hinders ship traffic, fish movement and the natural workings of the delta.

The Great Bubble Barrier offers a solution for different problem owners: we can help governments meet changing regulation on waste management in waterways, but also help cities fight plastic problems in their waters, and help waterboards to save on their cleanups after high water.

The fact that The Great Bubble Barrier is based on existing technology makes it easily applicable. And the best thing is: The Great Bubble Barrier can be applied from large rivers to the smal canals. The visual attractiveness of the bubble barrier makes it easy to attract spectators and increase awareness about the problems posed by the plastic soup.

Our goal is to realize the Great Bubble Barrier at smart locations, to stop as much plastic as possible in its way to the oceans.

July 1st 2016 The Great Bubble Barrier won the first prize in the Plastic Free Rivers Makathon organized by PWN and and Rijkswaterstaat. After a successful pilot in the Deltares lab this spring, this autumn a pilot will run in the IJssel near Kampen.

Pilot video:

The Great Bubble Barrier - Pilot Deltares 2017 preview

Green Challenge video:

Meet our finalist: The Great Bubble Barrier