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.
Green Challenge video: